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October 20, 2014

What’s Really in That Pet Food?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

 A professor at Chapman University in Calfornia just completed a study of the actual contents of dog and cat food with some shocking results.

Of the 52 products tested, only 31 were labeled correctly. Of the about 20 that were potentially mislabeled, seven were cat food and 13 were dog food. What kind of discrepancies did the researchers find?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sixteen contained a certain kind of meat that was not specified on the label. In three cases, one or two meats were substituted for the meats listed in the ingredients. Pork was the usual addition. On the bright side, no horse meat was found.

The study did not specify the brand names of the affected products (and our request of the author to provide specifics was denied): “It was not our intention to single out pet food brands, but rather to investigate the issue as a whole. Therefore, we will not be releasing the names of the brands or specific products that were tested in this study.”

A pet advocate who has written extensively on this subject at TruthAboutPetFood.com paid for a copy of the study and posted examples of some of its findings:

Sample number P017 – Cat Food (wet). Meat ingredients listed on the cat food label: “Liver (turkey), Turkey, Meat by-product, Chicken”. Testing found: “Chicken and Goat”. This pet food was a ‘turkey’ cat food – but testing found no turkey.

Sample number P019 – Dog Food (dry). Meat ingredients listed on the dog food label: “Chicken, Chicken meal, Beef fat”. Testing found: “Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, and Pork”. This chicken and beef fat dog food included 3 other animal species that were not listed on the label (lamb, turkey and pork).

We unfortunately have to conclude that in too many cases, the ingredients listing on pet foods is merely a suggested list of what might be in the bag or can.

• • •

October 6, 2014

CVS to Pay $225K for Misleading Packaging

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

  Some people call it over-packaging, slack-fill, or deceptive packaging. No matter what the name, it describes a product’s packaging that is deliberately designed to make the contents seem greater than they really are.

Last week, district attorneys from four California counties entered into a settlement agreement with CVS after they charged that the pharmacy chain misled consumers by misrepresenting product sizes or quantity. CVS was said to have used packaging that was “oversized and [with] non-functional slack-fill and/or false sidewalls and/or false bottoms. The company agreed to pay over $225,000 to settle these charges.

*MOUSE PRINT:

cvsfalsepackage

CVS issued a statement to KFSN, the television station that first broke the story:

“CVS/pharmacy has entered into an agreement with District Attorneys in a few California counties to resolve allegations concerning the packaging size of certain CVS Brand products. CVS/pharmacy is committed to ensuring that its product packaging is sufficient in size to accommodate pertinent information about the product. CVS Brand products, including packaging, are generally designed to be similar to the national brand equivalents. While manufacturers generally choose the container size, CVS/pharmacy has agreed to redesign the packaging of certain CVS Brand items.”

We told you about CVS selling vitamins in oversized packages over a year ago. Using our patent-pending super-duper x-ray device (a flashlight) we determined that a bottle of CVS vitamin D softgels only occupied about 25% of the space in a five-inch high bottle:

*MOUSE PRINT:

CVS fill line

The current action against CVS focused on various store brand anti-wrinkle creams they sell:

     
  • Accelerated Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer, Day
     
  • Accelerated Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer, Night
     
  • Age Refine Eye Cream, 0.5 ounces
     
  • Age-Refine Day Cream, 2.5 ounces
     
  • Anti-Wrinkle And Firming Cream
     
  • Healthy Complexion Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer Acne Treatment Cream, Clear Skin
     
  • Frizz-Defy Hair Serum
     
  • Moisturizing Face Cream Hair Remover
     
  • Preventin -AT 2 in 1 Dark Circle And Wrinkle Eye Treatment
     
  • Maximum Scalp Relief

The agreement allows CVS to continue manufacturing the products until January 1, and continue selling them for two years.

• • •

September 1, 2014

Some Online Stores Make Shoppers Buy Vitamins Blindly

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

 A few months ago we stressed the importance of reading the ingredients statement on vitamin bottles because some store brands that claim to be comparable to the name brand simply are not. (See our CVS vs. Bausch + Lomb story.)

While it is relatively easy to compare bottle labels in a store aisle, the same cannot always be said about shopping online for vitamins. A review by Consumer World and Mouse Print* of major online retailers that sell vitamins reveals that several of the biggest companies publish little or no information about the ingredients in their products.

EquateFor example, Walmart sells the Equate brand as their store brand. If you were interested in getting their version of Centrum Silver because it is $10 a bottle cheaper, you would find it impossible to know in advance whether it really was equivalent because Walmart does not publish the ingredients listing. All Walmart says on their website with respect to ingredients for Equate Multivitamin Active Adult 50+ is (*MOUSE PRINT:) “This multivitamin supplement contains vitamin D, K, B12, as well as calcium.” The real Centrum Silver has about 30 vitamins and minerals. While the Equate version may or may not have all the vitamins in the same amounts as Centrum Silver, you would have to make a trip to store to find out.

And even if they published the so-called “Supplement Facts” for Equate — the box on the back of vitamin bottles showing each vitamin, the amount in each pill, and what percentage of the daily requirement was provided — you couldn’t compare it to the list for Centrum Silver because Walmart’s website doesn’t disclose that brand’s contents either.

Walmart is not alone in failing to publish these ingredients lists. A brief review of Target’s website and that of Rite Aid reveals they are missing complete vitamin ingredients labels in many cases too.

For example, Target’s Up & Up store brand of Gummy Prenatal Multivitamins claims to be comparable to Vitafusion Prenatal. All it says in the description is that it “Contains 800 mg of Folic Acid as well as 50 mg of DHA per serving.” Target’s website does not disclose the ingredients in the brand name either other than to say it contains folic acid and DHA. The real Vitafusion Prenatal product has these ingredients according to the company’s own website:

*MOUSE PRINT:

supplement facts

Some other vitamins on Target’s website, like the Up & Up version of Centrum Silver, seemingly lists all the ingredients, but only for three of the over 30 ingredients does it disclose how much of that particular vitamin or mineral is contained in each pill.

Moving onto the big three drug chains in the United States, while both CVS and Walgreens disclose all the “supplement facts” for their vitamins, Rite Aid does not. Their store brand of Centrum does not disclose even one of the vitamins in the bottle, but it does disclose all the inactive ingredients/fillers:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Microcrystalline Cellulose, Gelatin, Croscarmellose Sodium, Stearic Acid, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Titanium Dioxide, Polyethylene Glycol, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, FD&C Yellow 6 Lake.

For Centrum itself, Rite Aid’s website offers this helpful information:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Centrum

We asked Walmart, Target, and Rite Aid why they don’t always disclose the content of vitamins they sell online, and whether they would begin doing so to help shoppers know what they are buying and enable them to compare one product to another.

Walmart responded:

[paraphrasing] Suppliers did not always provide the ingredients to us, but our company is committed to getting complete ingredient information on the website. — Walmart.com spokesperson

Target responded (in disappointing, non-apologetic PR speak):

“At Target, we strive to comply with all applicable regulations. We continually evaluate and make enhancements to the product assortment and information provided on Target.com.” — Target spokesperson

Rite Aid responded:

“Improved product descriptions, including ingredient listing, is a section of our website that we have already identified as an area for improvement. We are currently in the process of developing additional solutions, which we expect to launch in the near future, that will provide more product details to our online shoppers, enhancing their shopping experience and allowing them to make informed purchases.” — Rite Aid spokesperson

The Food and Drug Administration does not require “supplement facts” disclosures on websites, saying, “The FDA does not generally specify how online sellers of dietary supplements should display information about dietary ingredients in their products on websites.”

When examples of online sites failing to make full disclosure of vitamin contents were shown to the FDA, their spokesperson indicated it would probably take an act of Congress to get the agency to require ingredients listings online.

Let’s hope that online companies will recognize the inexplicable disservice they are currently offering and that they all begin making full ingredient disclosures to shoppers voluntarily.

• • •

July 14, 2014

Here We Downsize Again — Part 1

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:27 am

 Since last fall, manufacturers have been hard at work shrinking the products you buy everyday in an effort to make a price increase be less obvious.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ball Park Franks

Ball Park Franks recently decreased their package size by one ounce, so their one pound packages are now just 15 ounces.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Chobani

Chobani decreased the size of their yogurt containers to 5.3 ounces saying they were just matching what competitors had done. Remember the days when the standard yogurt container was eight ounces? Thanks to SW and Richard G. for the tip on Chobani.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Super Scoop

Arm and Hammer took out almost two pounds of kitty litter from Super Scoop but kept the boxes the same size. How many people noticed that we have to wonder? Thanks to WAE for the tip on Super Scoop.

• • •

June 23, 2014

Corn Oil Lowers Cholesterol More Than Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:51 am

  A full page ad from Mazola Oil in a recent Sunday coupon insert, made an astounding claim:

Mazola

What? Corn oil is better for you than olive oil? There is a block of almost unreadable fine print at the bottom of the page. It reads in part:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“…Very limited and preliminary scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1 tbsp (16 grams) of corn oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in corn oil. FDA concludes there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim. To achieve this possible benefit, corn oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”

How limited was the test? According to a summary of the results, the theory was only tested on 54 people.

Two other points:

  • Mazola seems to be claiming that eating just one tablespoon of corn oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease. Yet, the test they conducted required subjects to eat FOUR tablespoons a day.
  • Mazola shared the cost of this study, and it does not appear to have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    The question becomes whether it is fair to tout this health claim in big headlines with such a limited test? We asked the makers of Mazola to comment on this and the discrepancy in the amount of oil needed to achieve the claimed benefits, but they failed to respond.

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