The Checkout

Archive: October 2008

Blogging FDA Science Board Accepts BPA Report

So the report has been presented and a bevy of speakers--some from industry and some from consumer groups--have spoken. And now the board is sorting out what it is going to vote on. The options on the table include accepting the report wholesale or with editorial comments. Larry Sasich, the consumer representative on the board, proposed accepting the report and telling the FDA to look into immediately limiting infants' exposure to BPA. "The point of this whole process is, 'do we have a chemical out there that is potentially harmful to infants and small children?'" he said. "It would be...

By Annys Shin | October 31, 2008; 2:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

Blogging the FDA Science Board's BPA Meeting

Well, I'm here at the Hilton in Gaithersburg today at a meeting of the Food and Drug Administration's Science Board. The Science Board advises the FDA commissioner on scientific and technical matters and I'm sure these meetings are not usually a big media draw. But the CNN truck is already parked outside in anticipation of a vote later today by the Science Board on recommendations made by a special panel that reviewed the FDA's draft risk assessment of bisphenol-A. That risk assessment, released in September, concluded that BPA, a chemical used to harden plastic that is found in CDs, polycarbonate...

By Annys Shin | October 31, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Simplicity Crib Recall Hotline Number Is Down

If you own one of the 1 million Simplicity cribs that were recalled last year and have questions about how to obtain a repair kit, you may have to wait a bit longer. Earlier this week, the Illinois Attorney General's office sued SFCA, an affiliate of Blackstreet Capital Management in Bethesda, in relation to the recall last month of Simplicity bassinets after two children died. The AG's office also put together a guide of recalled nursery products to distribute to parents. While assembling the guide, the AG's staff discovered the company hotline set up to handle the 2007 crib recall...

By Annys Shin | October 30, 2008; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Recalls Drive Away Customers for at Least Nine Months

The consulting firm Deloitte released its annual Food & Product Safety Survey today and it's not great news for the fresh produce industry. Deloitte surveyed consumers nationwide about their perceptions about the safety of the U.S. food suppy and consumer products, specifically fresh produce, consumer electronics, toys, and packaged food and beverages. Here's what Deloitte found: More than half of consumers (58 percent) who heard about product safety and/or quality problems changed their buying habits, turning away from such products for more than nine months, on average. Changes in buying habits were most common for fresh food and packaged food/beverage...

By Annys Shin | October 29, 2008; 1:54 PM ET | Comments (0)

Yet Another Victim of Global Financial Crisis: Your Retirement

Americans are scaling back their contributions to their retirement savings plans, a new study has found. In a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, 35 percent of respondents said they have reduced their contributions to their 401(k) or other similar retirement plans. Sixty-three percent said they have completely suspended their contributions. Half of them said the financial strain caused by the economic downturn was the reason for tucking less money away for retirement. Thirty-two percent blamed unemployment and 25 percent attributed the decrease to health care costs. The people cutting back most were...

By Nancy Trejos | October 29, 2008; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

New Questions for Chairman of FDA Panel on BPA

Last week, Martin Philbert, who chairs a Food and Drug Administration panel on the chemical bisphenol-A, defended himself in an editorial in a Milwaukee newspaper against charges that he has been influenced by millions of dollars in donations to his research center by BPA makers. But his defense has only attracted more scrutiny from consumer groups and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who heads a House panel that oversees FDA funding. In a letter sent to FDA today, DeLauro asked the FDA to delay the release later this week of its report on the safety of BPA, which is used to...

By Annys Shin | October 28, 2008; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Break Out the Scissors and Bring in the Savings

I hesitate to say coupons are "back." For many people, they were never "out." But they had been declining in popularity in recent years. Not any more. Thanks to hard economic times, there are more converts with each passing day. As my colleague Nancy Trejos reported on Sunday, people are rediscovering the power of coupon clipping. Coupon usage peaked in 1992, when nearly 8 billion were redeemed for nearly $5 billion in savings, according to CMS, which processes coupon payments for merchants. Usage then started declining at an annual rate of 5 to 7 percent. Last year was the first...

By Annys Shin | October 27, 2008; 1:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Update on Delta crib recall

Here are the official releases on the crib recall with model numbers. There are TWO releases, so please scroll down: RELEASE No. 1: Infant Death Prompts Recall to Repair 985,000 Delta Enterprise Drop Side Cribs; Missing Safety Pegs Can Cause Entrapment and Suffocation Hazards WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Delta Enterprise Corp., of New York, New York., is announcing the voluntary recall to replace missing safety pegs involving 985,000 drop side cribs. Failure to use or install safety pegs can cause an entrapment and suffocation risk to infants and toddlers. When the...

By Annys Shin | October 21, 2008; 9:09 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Do Consumers Think About the Bailout?

On Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Congress should consider implementing a second stimulus package. According to at least one survey, though, many Americans are not yet convinced that the $700 billion bailout package already approved by Congress is even going to work. In a survey commission by Truecredit.com and conducted by Harris Interactive, only 1 percent of the 2,021 adults polled said they believe the bailout initiative will be "very effective." Sixty-two percent said they believe it will be at least somewhat effective at improving the current economic climate. Truecredit.com, which is run by Transunion, one of...

By Nancy Trejos | October 21, 2008; 7:05 AM ET | Comments (2)

1.6 million cribs recalled after two deaths

Delta Enterprises of New York is recalling 1.6 million cribs after two infants died. The information leaked out Monday night before an official release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So there is little detail either about the specific model number of the cribs in question or the deaths. The company wasn't providing it as of 9:25 pm E.S.T. on Monday. According to AP: In one of the infant deaths, there was no safety peg and the crib's side detached, leaving a gap. The infant got stuck in the gap and suffocated. In the second instance, the infant died in...

By Annys Shin | October 20, 2008; 9:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

Food and Drug Adminstration Opening Offices in China

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Levitt announced that finally, after months of negotiation and bureaucratic slogging, the FDA will be sending permanent staff to China. The first office will be in Beijing and two more offices, one in Shanghai and the other in Guangzhou, will open sometime next year, for a total of eight FDA staffers. The stationing of U.S. product and food safety personnel overseas was a key part of the Bush Administration's response to 2007's wave of recalls. The recent melamine-tainted infant formula scandal has not exactly boosted consumer confidence in China's safety regulators. Leavitt...

By Annys Shin | October 20, 2008; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

2,000 Cribs Recalled After Death of 5 month old

Playkids USA of Brooklyn, N.Y. said it was recalling 2,000 convertible cribs after a five-month-old child died on Aug. 31, 2008. The infant became entrapped between the mattress and the drop side rail and suffocated. The cribs involved are portable and the sides are made of a mesh which can expand, creating a gap between the mattress and the side that an infant can fall into and get stuck. The last portable crib recall was in 2005 when Delta Enterprise Corp. recalled about 10,000 cribs because the slats could separate from the headboard, posing a suffocation hazard. The crib being...

By Annys Shin | October 16, 2008; 2:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

I'm Dreaming of a Cheap Christmas

Usually, I am all about Christmas. I love Christmas, not least because my birthday is the day before and because I also love cookies. But this year, the holiday season conjures up images of large credit card statements, small bank accounts and an evil Grinch who goes by the alias "Dow Jones Industrial Average." Apparently, I'm not the only one in this mess. The National Retail Federation, a trade group, today released the gloomy results of its holiday shopping survey: Consumers plan to spend an average of $832.36 on holiday shopping this year, up 1.9 percent from last year and...

By Ylan Mui | October 16, 2008; 12:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

Preemption: Not a Blunderbuss

Yes, a posting not related to the financial crisis! However, it is about preemption, that most important, but possibly dullest of all product safety issues. Preemption refers to having federal regulations trump state ones, including stronger state ones. The trial lawyers issued a report Wednesday on what it describes as the Bush Administration's systematic attempts to impose preemption on the world through executive fiat, either by filing amicus briefs on behalf of drug companies fighting product liability suits, or by inserting preemption language into numerous federal regulations by including it in the preamble. One example is the National Highway Transportation...

By Annys Shin | October 16, 2008; 7:04 AM ET | Comments (2)

The Financial Crisis and YOU: Some Helpful Links

As the financial crisis has unfolded, many of my colleagues have been compiling information for consumers, from details such as whether they can still use their Wachovia bank card, to whether or not they should buy that pad in Brooklyn. Some are based on your questions so keep them coming at http://washingtonpost.com/yourmoney. Here are links to those pieces: The Crisis and Your Pocket Book series are answers to reader questions. You can check out the installments so far here: The Crisis and Your Pocketbook 3 The Crisis and Your Pocketbook 2 The Crisis and Your Pocket Book Getting in Touch...

By Annys Shin | October 15, 2008; 1:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

Vote with Your Coffee Cup

It's official: There is nowhere left to hide. Yes, this is Washington, and yes, the presidential election is only 21 days away. But now you can't even buy a cup of coffee or eat a burrito without becoming embroiled in partisan politics. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven launched its "7-Election" campaign this month. Customers "vote" by choosing which 20-ounce coffee cup they want to use: one with Sen. John McCain's name or one with Sen. Barack Obama's. As of this morning, here were the standings: DC: Obama, 83 percent; McCain, 17 percent MD: Obama, 59 percent; McCain, 41 percent VA: Obama,...

By Ylan Mui | October 14, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (2)

Got Your Money in a Credit Union? You Too Are Safe

The National Credit Union Administration wants you to know that your money is safe not just in banks, but in the nation's more than 8,000 credit unions. The NCUA is to credit unions what the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is to banks. So when Congress passed the bailout plan that raised FDIC insurance limits from $100,000 to $250,000 until the end of 2009, the NCUA agreed to go along with the new limits. In all the discussions about the bailout plan, there has been little talk about credit unions. That's because credit unions have been largely untouched by the subprime...

By Nancy Trejos | October 10, 2008; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (2)

The Economy that Stole Christmas

Every fall, retailers try to lower the bar for expectations of holiday performance. They warn of tough times and slow sales, and then cheer when -- surprise! -- things aren't all that bad on Dec. 26. But this year is different. This year, retailers have legitimate reasons to worry, just like the rest of us. In a story this morning, I wrote about the real pressures that retailers are facing for the first time in nearly 20 years. The industry reported additional sales numbers today that feed those worries. Abercrombie & Fitch said sales at stores open at least a...

By Ylan Mui | October 9, 2008; 3:55 PM ET | Comments (2)

Shoppers? Yes, They Still Exist

My colleague Kendra Marr was out chatting with shoppers yesterday -- yes, there are still some people shopping, though retail sales figures might have you thinking otherwise. Caleb Huey, a 19-year-old junior at American University, said he was feeling guilty about his new winter wardrobe, but he couldn't stop himself from blowing most of his paycheck from his job at a marketing company. "With the economic downturn, I've been shopping more," he said. "I makes be feel secure to go out and buy more things. I don't know why." In fact, while he was shopping in Georgetown yesterday, someone stole...

By Kathy Lally | October 9, 2008; 1:04 PM ET | Comments (1)

But Wait, There's Still More!

Kevin Trudeau doesn't understand the word, "No." A federal judge has banned him from infomercials for three years yet again. The ruling is the latest turn in a decade long quest by the Federal Trade Commission to stop Trudeau, who it says is "a prolific marketer who has either appeared in or produced hundreds of infomercials." The FTC filed its first case against him in 1998 over infomercials for products that he claimed could cause significant weight loss and cure addictions to heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes. Oh, and give users photographic memory to make it easier for them to remember...

By Annys Shin | October 8, 2008; 1:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

New Data on Children Killed by Unstable Furniture and TVs

On Wednesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released new data showing that between 2000 and 2006--the most recent data available--there have been 180 deaths involving heavy furniture such as dressers or armoires, and televisions falling and crushing people. Eighty percent of the deaths involved children younger than 10. And there were 40 reports of tip-over deaths between 2005 and 2006 alone. And such accidents continue. Last Saturday, a nine-month old in Arizona died after a television fell and crushed her. There are various theories as to why there was a big increase. Don Mays of Consumers Union thinks it could...

By Annys Shin | October 2, 2008; 7:34 AM ET | Comments (2)

Is your child's booster seat safe?

Safety experts have singled out 13 child booster seats for not doing a good enough job of protecting children during a crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said Wednesday that the booster seats for children ages 4 to 8 don't position them so they receive optimal protection from safety belts, which is their main purpose. The IIHS gave the thumbs down to the following models: Compass B505 Compass B510 Cosco/Dorel Traveler Evenflo Big Kid Confidence Safety Angel Ride Ryte Cosco/Dorel Alpha Omega Cosco/Dorel (Eddie Bauer) Summit Cosco Highback Booster* Dorel/Safety 1st...

By Annys Shin | October 1, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Want Some Free Advice?

Have you ever thought about getting a financial adviser? Many of us probably can't afford one, especially now, as we watch our net worth plummet along with the stock market. But for two days, you'll be able to get free financial advice, down on the National Mall of all places. Financial Planning organization TD Ameritrade Institutional, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) Consumer Education Foundation and Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine have gathered hundreds of financial advisers across the country to give free advice on the Your Money Bus Tour. The bus is traveling to 60 cities over the...

By Nancy Trejos | October 1, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

 

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