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June 19, 2017

Beefers: Where’s the Beef?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:22 am

Clara Peller, the famed octogenarian who squawked “Where’s the Beef?” when confronted with skimpy burgers in Wendy’s commercials of yesteryear, would possibly have suffered a heart attack on camera had she ever seen these beef patties.

They are I&J Beefers, the top-selling frozen hamburger in South Africa.


They look like pretty normal frozen beef patties. But there is a secret lurking on the back.


Beefers ingredients

What? They are only 36% beef? Yep! And the rest of it is mostly water and soy flour.

South Africa’s labeling regulation requires food manufacturers that emphasize a key expensive ingredient in the name or description of a product to declare the percentage of that ingredient in bold type on the front of the pack. The company says they comply with the law. While the package above clearly did not, new packages do:

Beefers percentage

I&J, the manufacturer of Beefers, also sells frozen fried fish. We can only imagine what’s under the breading.


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May 15, 2017

Burger King Got Caught in a Whopper

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:17 am

A Maryland woman caught Burger King in a whopper. She discovered that the fast food chain, perhaps nationally, was overcharging customers who used one of the company’s “buy one, get one free” coupons for a Croissan’wich.

bogo coupon

She did a meticulous but limited investigation by first buying two Croissan’wiches with a buy one, get one free coupon, and then one minute later on a separate receipt, buying a single Croissan’wich. She should have been charged the same amount on both receipts because she only was paying for one in each order.


Burger KIng receipts

The receipt on the left shows that she was charged $2.99 when she used the BOGO coupon, while when she bought just one Croissan’wich without a coupon, she was only charged $1.79 — $1.20 less.

This woman repeated her tests in a Maryland Burger King as well as one in Washington, DC. The results were the same, although the prices differed. She was charged more for a Croissan’wich when she used a coupon than when one was purchased sans coupon.

So, she is bringing a class action lawsuit against Burger King hoping to get restitution for everyone overcharged.

The Federal Trade Commission has advertising guidelines right on point when a seller offers a second item free upon purchase of the first item:

(b) Meaning of “Free”. (1) The public understands that, except in the case of introductory offers in connection with the sale of a product or service (See paragraph (f) of this section), an offer of “Free” merchandise or service is based upon a regular price for the merchandise or service which must be purchased by consumers in order to avail themselves of that which is represented to be “Free”. In other words, when the purchaser is told that an article is “Free” to him if another article is purchased, the word “Free” indicates that he is paying nothing for that article and no more than the regular price for the other. [emphasis added] Thus, a purchaser has a right to believe that the merchant will not directly and immediately recover, in whole or in part, the cost of the free merchandise or service by marking up the price of the article which must be purchased, by the substitution of inferior merchandise or service, or otherwise.

We asked the law firm representing this consumer if the Croissan’wich happened to be on sale when the test purchases were made, and thus that might explain why she was charged the non-sale price for the first one when using a BOGO coupon. The answer was that they did not believe so. We also inquired whether this alleged overcharging was happening with other coupons, like buy one Whopper, get one free. Same answer — not to their knowledge — but they are investigating further.

Mouse Print* wrote to Burger King’s PR folks asking for their side of the story. The company did not respond.


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May 1, 2017

Tide+ Provides 20% More Loads?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:17 am

How could it be? Two 92 ounce bottles of Tide+ detergent are side by side on store shelves, with one claiming it gets 48 loads and the other says 59 loads.

Tide  +

The cap explains that the bottle on the right above is new and gets 20% more loads per jug.

Tide 20% more loads

Don’t even try to decipher the small print under the 20% claim (hint: they used a slash when they should have used a semi-colon).

The secret to how they squeezed more loads into the same size bottle is partially disclosed in fine print on the back.


Tide 48 load
Tide 59 load

In small print, we first learn that the number of loads claimed is for “medium” size washing loads, which really appears to be a euphemism for small loads. But by examining the pictures of the caps shown, one learns the other trick of sorts that P&G used to get more loads out of the same size bottle. They changed the dosing. Where previously, filling the cap to line 2 gave you 48 medium loads, they now instruct users just to fill the cap to line one to miraculously get 59 loads — 20% more.

Similarly, the dosing changed for large loads from filling the cap to line 4 previously, to now filling it to only line 3. Curiously, for “full” loads, they still recommend filling the cap to the fifth line. And in so doing, users will achieve no increase in the number of loads at all.

That actual number of large loads per bottle, incidentally, is only a bit more than 21 according to P&G for both the old and new bottles. Twenty-one loads when the front of the bottle promised 48 or 59 loads? Nice. But, unfortunately, this is a game played by all detergent makers — promote the largest number of loads possible based on the smallest amount of clothing to be washed.

We asked P&G whether they accomplished the claimed increase in loads merely by changing the dosing instructions to use less, or whether they changed the formula making it more concentrated. In a series of emails, their PR spokesperson replied in part:

We further concentrated the formulas of Tide Plus Downy, Tide Plus Febreze, Tide Plus Bleach Alternative and Tide Cold Water so that you can use less liquid per dose but maintain the same cleaning power.

For medium and large loads, the new dosing provides 20% more loads per bottle than before.

We rebalanced the formulas we’ve been discussing and we did so in order to 1) continue to provide an outstanding clean and 2) ensure we could continue to provide the added benefits of each formula with the same dose as our “regular” formulas.

We have not changed the recommended dose for HE Full Capacity … [because] 1) these HE washing machines continue to get larger and require more cleaning power for larger loads… and 2) we know most consumers do not dose at HE Full Capacity for “all” loads on a regular basis.

So, it seems like P&G accomplished getting more loads out of the same size bottle by a combination of introducing a more concentrated formula and by recommending using less.

What still remains a mystery is why those fill lines inside the cap are so darn impossible to find and read.


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April 10, 2017

Here We Downsize Again – 2017 (Part 1)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

In the ever-shrinking world of groceries and toiletries, some big manufacturers continue to think that smaller is better (at least for their bottom line). Herewith, then, are some of the latest products to have been downsized.

Example 1:

Wayne L. was shocked recently when he checked out the display of Crest Pro-Health at his local store and found that P&G had again shrunk the size of their tubes.


Crest Pro-Health

Unbelievably, over the past couple of years, the tubes have gone from a full six ounces to 5.1 ounces last year, and now a measly 4.6 ounces. At this rate, they will be travel-size before you know it.

We asked P&G why the product was being downsized again.

Our first priority is to provide our trusted, quality products for you at good value. In these times where everyday costs are rising, the cost of the raw materials that go into our toothpaste has also risen. Although we have tried wherever possible to absorb and manage these, in some instances, we have had to reflect this in our cost-pricing to retailers. — P&G spokesperson

Example 2:

A Massachusetts consumer, Rosemarie L., was incensed that Coke 8-packs had become Coke 6-packs at her local supermarket and were selling for the same price as before. We contacted Coca-Cola to find out what was going on, and whether these Coke mini-cans had really been downsized but the price kept the same.



“We are in the process of phasing out mini cans in eight packs. We are shifting to six packs and 10 packs. … The suggested retail price of six packs is less than the suggested retail price of eight packs.” — Coca-Cola spokesperson

So, this may be a little more about Coke changing its product mix than downsizing in the conventional sense. While this consumer’s store chose to keep the price the same for both sizes, a check at Target revealed the 8-pack selling for $3.69 but the new 6-pack was only $2.99.

Example 3:

When the chips are down, that means the ever-changing cans of Pringles are probably down too (after being upsized a while back).



Mike K., who kindly submitted this picture to Mouse Print*, says he “noticed that the Pringles shelf looked like a topographical map with all of the different new and old cans.” Each can lost about half an ounce of chips, going from 5.96 to 5.5 ounces.

Example 4:

Finally this round, one of the original products to ever be downsized — coffee — is at it again. This time, it is Maxwell House’s turn, following a similar move by Folgers a couple of years ago.


Maxwell House

The old 28-ounce size is now 24.5 ounces. This amounts to a loss of 30 cups of coffee per can with the total going from 240 cups down to just 210 cups. It is noteworthy to mention that five years ago when Maxwell House last downsized, each can of a similar variety produced 270 cups of coffee from a can weighing over two pounds. (See picture.)


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March 20, 2017

The Secret Behind Shrinking Corned Beef

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

Clara Peller, the feisty senior who famously questioned the lack of meat in Wendy’s competitors’ burgers, could well reprise her memorable line, “where’s the beef,” when it comes to corned beef.

Cooks across the country surely noticed last week that the plump corned beef brisket they boiled for St. Patrick’s Day emerged from the pot only a fraction of its original size. Most people probably chalked it up to the high fat content of corned beef. But that is only part of the reason.

Had all of us paid more attention to the package the corned beef came in, we would know the primary reason for the shrinkage.


corned beef

corned beef

What? Thirty-five percent watery brine? You bet. And we are not talking about water with a 35% concentration of salt and chemicals that the brisket took a bath in. The solution is actually injected into the meat to plump it up big time. According to meat packers that MrConsumer consulted, while the solution is in deed needed to “corn” the beef, manufacturers that inject their briskets with more than 20% solution are doing so for economic reasons.

A three pound piece of beef brisket plumped up with 35% solution magically becomes about a four pound brisket. That’s how stores can sell raw corned beef in Cryovac packages for only $1.69 a pound around St. Patrick’s Day. And this is all perfectly legal as long as the percentage of solution is stated on the package if over 20%.

One corned beef manufacturer candidly put it this way, “We’re basically selling water.”


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