There are very good reasons why many countries have governing bodies checking to make sure that what the business says it’s selling, it’s actually selling. But one couple in England thought they could pull a fast one on customers and regulators when they ran low on free-range eggs, aided with a bunch of chickens wandering in a yard and some plain packaging. [More]
In a kind of weird labeling paradox, this Turkey Hill Homemade Vanilla ice cream is simultaneously “New Flavor” AND “Original Recipe.” Reader GR scratched his head over it and sent it in using The Consumerist Tipster App. It’s new, but it’s original, but it’s new, but it’s the original… The logic loop continues ad infinatum until all worlds collapse and the universe reaches a state of perfect entropy. I’m afraid for GR to open it; he might find SchrÃ¶dinger’s cat inside. [More]
If you avoid standard processed meats because of labels indicating they’re packed with potentially damaging preservatives including nitrate and nitrite, your efforts may be in vain. The “organic” and “natural” alternatives may include similar chemicals, despite what their labels say. [More]
Earlier today, the Food and Drug Administration announced new labeling guidlines for sunscreen in an effort to make it clear to consumers which products offer the best chance of keeping your skin from turning into shoe leather. [More]
Here’s something to choke on. The “blueberries” inside that muffin or cereal you love so much might not actually have ever been blueberries. Instead, they are a composite of sugars and starches that have been dyed blue. Check the label. If it says “blueberry flavored chrunchlets,” for instance, those are actually sugars, soybean oil, red #40 and blue #2. Reached for comment, Kellogg’s told NPR that the stuff is “labeled in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.” Well that takes care of that. If it’s not illegal and is profitable, do it. [More]
After the Center for Science in the Public Interest complained last month that “all natural” doesn’t include things like alkalized cocoa and hydrogenated oil, Ben & Jerry’s announced yesterday that it will stop using the phrase on its ice cream cartons. [More]
Here’s a perfect example of why you should ignore what’s on the front of a product package and go straight to the nutritional info instead. Kraft’s Wheat Thins now come in a “100% Whole Grain” variety, which you might think translates into more fiber for your digestive tract. It even says on the front that one serving packs 22g of whole grain versus 11g for regular Wheat Thins. It turns out, however, that both crackers provide the same amount of dietary fiber and fat–and the whole grain version also has more sodium and is made with high fructose corn syrup. [More]
“Tobacco products today are really the only human-consumed product that we don’t know what’s in them,” the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products said to the Associated Press. To address that, the agency has told tobacco companies to provide a list of the ingredients in their cigarette brands by June 2010. The FDA says it won’t publicize a lot of the data in order to protect trade secrets, but that by June 2011 it will publish a list of “harmful and potentially harmful” ingredients, at which point tobacco companies will have to start listing the amounts of each one on their products. [More]
At the National Conference on Weights and Measures later this month, some states are planning to talk about printer ink cartridge labeling and whether it should be more standardized. “It’s time to sort all of this out,” the Florida Weights & Measures chief told the Kansas City Star. Of course, printer companies aren’t about to go along with any changes quietly–Lexmark has already submitted a letter saying that displaying any information on the cartridges will only confuse consumers, because the cartridges are micro-machines and not just ink containers. [More]
The Wall Street Journal takes a good look at items marketed as “healthier for you” on supermarket shelves, and as you can probably imagine, any actual health benefits vary greatly from product to product. Take all natural chicken, for example: if you buy “enhanced” or “plumped” chicken—it will say somewhere on the label that water, salt, and/or carrageenan has been added, but it will still be labeled natural—the sodium per 4 oz serving jumps from 45-60 mgs to 200-400 mgs.
Of all the ridiculous Acai schemes we’ve seen involving overpriced miracle elixirs, Snapple wins hands down—their Acai Blackberry drink is high fructose corn syrup, pear juice, and “natural flavors,” which Consumerist reader LS points out could be “a spoonful of blackberry jam from Aunt Sally’s root cellar and a puff of acai-laced breath from the health food girl in accounting.” Or more likely, just some flavoring extracts from a company similar to this one.
“Pre-emption” is a legal doctrine that says the federal government can claim all regulatory power over an area or subject, barring states from acting on their own. The drug maker Wyeth has brought a case before the Supreme Court arguing that a woman in Vermont, who lost her arm due to a drug complication that Wyeth knew about but did not publicize, cannot sue them in state court because of pre-emption. Wyeth says that only the FDA has the power to regulate it—and since the FDA approved Wyeth’s drug label, it’s the FDA’s responsibility. We think Wyeth is pretending to care about federal-versus-state power in an attempt to weasel out of any responsibility.
Here’s a perfect example of why you should always approach “healthy” labeling on food products with a skeptical eye. Summer did a quick side-by-side comparison of regular Mott’s apple juice with new Mott’s Plus Light. What she found was that except for a few added vitamins, the Light product was just Mott’s juice diluted by 50% with water—but selling for the same price as the 100% juice.