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May 30, 2016

Kind Nutrition Bars — A “Healthy” Choice?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:58 am

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Kind, LLC, a maker of supposedly “healthy” nutrition snack bars and similar foods.

The agency singled out four of their nutrition bars as making problematic claims not in compliance with FDA regulations: Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants.

KIND box

Take the above dark chocolate peanut butter bar, for example. They say this bar is “misbranded” because the product labels bear nutrient content claims, but the products do not meet the requirements to make such claims. Specifically, the label makes the claim “Healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome” in connection with statements such as: “good source of fiber,” “no trans fats,” and “7g protein.”

And their website says:

KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein is a healthy & satisfying blend of peanuts and dark chocolate. Each bar contains 7 grams of protein, which promotes satiety and strengthens bones, muscles and skin.


The problem according to the FDA is that you can only use the term “healthy” as an implied nutrient content claim on the label or in the labeling of a food provided that the food, among other things, is “low saturated fat” [i.e., the food has a saturated fat content of 1 g or less per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) and no more than 15 percent of the calories are from saturated fat]. But according to their nutrition label, the product fails this test, with three and half times the saturated fat and four times the calories allowed from saturated fat.


The product also cannot be called “anti-oxidant rich” because it does not contain at least 20% of the daily requirement of nutrients recognized for their anti-oxidant qualities. It only contains 15% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin E and 0% of vitamin C and vitamin A.

In addition, there are technical problems with their “no trans fat” and “good source of fiber claims.”

Virtually all of these violations are not obvious to purchasers who probably see this product as some sort of health or nutrition bar. And one has to wonder whether if this is all about the marketing of candy bars cloaked with seeming health benefits.

Fast forward to May 2016: The FDA seems to have had a change of heart and has told Kind that it can return the word “healthy” to its bars. In the meantime, the agency says it is going to re-evaluate its two-decade-old regulations governing the word “healthy” and may come out with new rules. That is sure kind of the FDA.


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May 23, 2016

Is LinkedIn Telling it Straight?

Filed under: Business,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:49 am

Last week, LinkedIn, a site where professionals network with each other, sent some users this less-than-urgent email:

LinkedIn email

However, at the same time, LinkedIn’s chief technology officer posted this more dire warning on the company’s official blog:


In 2012, LinkedIn was the victim of an unauthorized access and disclosure of some members’ passwords. At the time, our immediate response included a mandatory password reset for all accounts we believed were compromised as a result of the unauthorized disclosure. Additionally, we advised all members of LinkedIn to change their passwords as a matter of best practice.

Yesterday, we became aware of an additional set of data that had just been released that claims to be email and hashed password combinations of more than 100 million LinkedIn members from that same theft in 2012. We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords. We have no indication that this is as a result of a new security breach.

UPDATE: May 18, 5:30 p.m. PT

We’re moving swiftly to address the release of additional data from a 2012 breach, specifically:

We have begun to invalidate passwords for all accounts created prior to the 2012 breach​ that haven’t update​d​ their password since that breach. We will be letting individual members know​ ​if they need to reset their password.

So he’s saying that maybe over 100 million emails addresses and passwords (actually 117 million according to news reports) were stolen previously and are now for sale, and not just the 6.5 million originally believed.

It seems that their casual email to members seriously underplays the seriousness of the situation. And as we’ve said before, the worst mouse print is the disclosure that is not made.


LinkedIn just sent a “Notice of Data Breach” to registrants outlining in more detail what happened. (They must have read Mouse Print* this week. )


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May 16, 2016

Here We Downsize Again — 2016 (part 2)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

Thanks to the eagle eyes of regular Mouse Print* reader Richard G., we have another round of products that manufacturers have taken the shrink ray to.



Toilet paper is one of the categories of items that has been downsized for decades. Cottonelle continues to shrink in size, this time going from 418 sheets on a mega roll to 380 sheets. Double rolls have also downsized from 209 sheets per roll to 190.

Deceptively, in the upper right corner of the new smaller package, the company claims that you are getting 20% more sheets.

Cottonelle 20%

Huh? Only in marketing can getting less per roll mean you’re getting more. The *MOUSE PRINT finishes the claim: “compared to Charmin Ultra Strong mega rolls.”

Incidentally, it was just about a year ago that this same brand sliced off fractions of a inch from both the length of width of each sheet, as we reported.



Colgate is just in the process now of reducing the size of its largest tube of regular toothpaste from 8.2 ounces to 8.0 ounces. And just like the makers of Cottonelle, they are trying to create a false impression that the new box is giving you more. How in the world are you getting 33% more?


vs. 6 oz size

Thanks for the mathematics lesson tucked on the back of the box, Colgate.

Lastly, Scott K.’s co-workers in Canada couldn’t understand why their instant coffee was running out much faster than usual.



The reason: there is 15% less coffee in each jar of Nescafe now.


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May 9, 2016

Is it a TV Show or is it Advertising?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

Most people can tell the difference between a television show and an infomercial made to look like a TV show. More subtle is advertising within television shows or movies, such as when a product is shown casually on screen (“product placement”).

A TV program that aired last week pushed the concept of product placement to a new level. Here is a 30-second clip from Modern Family, where one of its main characters, a real estate agent, laments being outclassed at career day at his daughter’s school by a periodontist.

Click play button

What 99 and 44/100ths percent of viewers don’t realize is that spiel by actor Ty Burrell was actually an advertisement.


Realtor credit

That’s right, at the end of the program, about three seconds before the screen goes black, viewers learn that the National Association of Realtors paid ABC for that little explanation that not all real estate brokers are “realtors.” (See story.)

We don’t know much ABC got paid for including that in their program, but it frankly seems a bit manipulative of the audience to have subtle advertising masquerading as program content. What do you think?


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May 2, 2016

Man Beats Kmart in Court Over Fridge, But Should He Have Won?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:58 am

Kenmore refrigeratorAs reported in the Asbury Park Press, a 79-year old New Jersey man had a problem with a Kenmore refrigerator he had bought a year earlier. Around Christmas, the gentleman noticed that food in his freezer was getting mushy.

When he contacted Kmart, they told him that he was using the refrigerator improperly because he placed it in his unheated garage, contrary to the instructions in the owner’s manual.



Apparently, you are not supposed to put the refrigerator in a garage where the temperature can fall below 55 degrees. Kmart refused to give the man a refund because of his misuse of the product, but offered him a $75 gift card for the lost food in the freezer, and a 20% discount on a new refrigerator.

That was not satisfactory to the consumer, so he sued Kmart in small claims court for $535.59. The judge asked him a few questions like whether he was told of this limitation in the store before he bought the appliance. The consumer said no.

With that, the judge ruled in consumer’s favor. Incidentally, Kmart did not show up for the hearing. It is a general court rule that if the defendant does not appear for the trial, the plaintiff wins by default.

The question becomes, had Kmart shown up in court, would the consumer have still won?

Here’s MrConsumer’s take: If the consumer had asked for a refrigerator that could be used in a cold environment like a garage, and if Kmart directed him to this particular model, then Kmart would be responsible if in fact the refrigerator was not suited for that purpose. (This is the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose.) If however the consumer never made known his intentions to use the refrigerator in a manner that most people do not, he was negligent by not following the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings… and should not have won.

A salesperson cannot be expected to read the consumer’s mind and recite all the do’s and don’ts listed in the product manual.

What do you think? Should this consumer have won his case? Add your opinion in the comments section.


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