Food Safety Regulations Overhauled by Senate

November 30, 2010

One too many bad eggs for The Senate. Not the Senators themselves necessarily, but bad eggs getting through the US food-safety system. Oh, and unsafe poultry, bad peanut butter and spinach too. Recalls of tainted food that sickened thousands, finally led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger governmental oversight.

And that’s what led to Tuesday’s 73-25 passing of sweeping overhaul that strengthens the Food and Drug Administration in hopes of cracking down on unsafe foods before they harm people rather than after outbreaks occur.

Read more in the The New York Times article.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2010

The entire staff at The Consumer Warning Network wishes everyone a safe, healthy and “Black Friday” Thanksgiving Holiday.

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Robo-Judges In Foreclosure Court

November 19, 2010

First it was the missing “note“, then blind “rubber stamping” of foreclosure documents and now Florida Judges are brought out of retirement to fast track foreclosures in the system.  Is what they are doing fair?

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Is Your Thanksgiving Turkey Safe?

November 19, 2010

Before you take a bite of that Thanksgiving turkey (or leftovers), you may want to read on and make sure you’ve cooked that holiday bird well!

Consumer Warning Network reported a few years ago that the 2008 Farm Bill loosened federal regulation of poultry inspections by allowing state inspection programs take the place of federal inspections. With Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners around the corner, how’s that little bit of federal deregulation working out?

On November 14, the USDA announced the recall of 2600 pounds of cooked smoked turkey products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a deadly bacterial agent. The turkey products from New Braunfels Smokehouse in Texas had been inspected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Consumers Union recently tested 382 whole chicken broilers bought at over 100 supermarkets nationwide, and tested them for salmonella and campylobacter, the two leading causes of food poisoning. Two-thirds of the raw chickens tested showed signs of one or both of these dangerous contaminants. A similar test back in 2003 had found such contaminants in half of the chickens examined. On the other hand, another test in 2007 had found a higher rate of contamination.

The cleanest products came from Perdue chickens, but the worst came from Tyson and Foster Farms. Interestingly, all of the store brand “organic chickens” involved in the testing were free of salmonella. Of course, all chickens are presumably “organic,” but organic farmers usually follow more stringent standards in their smaller operations.

So, are we better off with less federal regulation? The jury is still out. Now that your local state inspector doesn’t have as many pesky federal inspectors looking over his shoulder, it remains to be seen whether the level of safety will suffer. Is it acceptable that only one out of three poultry products can be considered safe?

The recent Texas recall points out the importance of food safety inspections and the need to guarantee that governmental regulations in this area not be shortchanged in the push for “less government.”

With every three poultry purchases at your supermarket, two of them will probably have bacterial contamination. This is why it is so important to follow safe cooking rules whenever you roast that turkey stuffed with dressing.

UPDATE: Food Safety Regulations Overhauled by Senate

Bloated Cell Phone Bills

November 12, 2010

Does your monthly cell phone bill give you sticker shock? Many cell phone users may be underusing their pricey service plans by hundreds of dollars. Just by comparing your real time usage on your bill and your voice, data and text rates, you can lower your monthly bill.  ABC News affiliate KHOU in Houston reports on what consumers have done to fight sticker shock.    Click here to watch the story.

“Power Bands” – Improve Balance and Flexibility?

November 11, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

What will they think of next, these scientists? A simple rubber band with holograms on it, that improves your body’s balance, health and flexibility just by wearing it. Too good to be true? Yes.

Power bands supposedly work through the interaction of the holograms on the band (3D-like pictures created by scattered light) and your body’s “natural frequency.” The frequencies of the hologram resonate with your own frequencies, thereby promoting good health, better balance and flexible joints. And they only cost $134.40 for a lot of 50 bracelets. That’s only $2.69 apiece. Another company sells them for $69.95 (Australian dollars) and provides twice the number of holograms on their bracelets. As one seller candidly admits: “NO PROMISES, JUST RESULTS.”

You can even see a video “proving” that these miracle devices work. Watch as someone not wearing the bracelet is easily put off balance, but when he wears a bracelet, he maintains his balance perfectly. And this is a person initially skeptical of the device.

If you watch to the end of the video, you see how the trick is performed, even with someone not in on the trick. A simple matter of how you push.  Stick your arms out, stand on one leg.  When someone pushes down outwardly away from your center of gravit, you’re thrown off balance.  When someone pushes down inwardly toward your center of gravity,  “AMAZING!” you maintain your balance, whether you’re holding this remarkable product OR NOT. 

Remember the five rules for sniffing out a scam? If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true.

It only takes a moment to uncover the pseudoscience behind this product. Holograms are pictures – they don’t emit frequencies. Your body is not a huge battery, nor does it emit frequencies, unless you’re talking about the light waves bouncing off of you.

The product is pure bunk, but Amazon sells them, and you can buy them on line, even with your favorite college’s logo on them.  Want to improve your balance and flexibility? Get a good workout at the gym.

Less Government! No Deficit Spending! OK, How?

November 11, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

Common themes ran through most of the successful campaigns during this 2010 midterm election: less government, lower taxes, no deficits. Voters spoke loudly and clearly – we want chocolate fudge sundaes with no calories!

Now a bipartisan deficit reduction commission is also chiming in making some controversial proposals on how to reduce the deficit.  Let’s take a look at what’s on the table.

The federal 2010 budget is $3.54 trillion. The deficit this year is $1.42 trillion. Thus, to bring the deficit down to zero, we would have to cut the budget by 40%. No politician could get elected on that impossible platform. There are certain sacred cows in the federal budget.

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