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August 3, 2015

Muscling In on Your Pocketbook

Filed under: Health,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:24 am

  PRNewswire, a respected firm that companies hire to disseminate their press releases, published an unusual one last year with the headline: “ScamOrNotReviews Announces Muscle Xlerator Review for 2014.” The release purportedly was announcing the publication of test results by this consumer group of a pill to help build muscles.

The summary of the release reads as follows:

ScamOrNotReviews, a consumer advocacy group, has announced the release of their 2014 Muscle Xlerator review. The company examines claims made by product manufacturers to ensure their validity, and in the case of Muscle Xlerator, they have found that the manufacturer’s claims are accurate.

ScamOrNotReviews? A consumer advocacy group? Gee, MrConsumer never heard of them. Who are they?

The answer, according to a press release about a different product published the same day, is this:

ScamOrNotReviews is a consumer advocacy group with the goal of testing products for consumers, preventing companies from successfully misleading them with regard to products or services that may be offered. For several years, the review company has helped consumers sift through the many accurate and inaccurate claims made by companies in order to sell a product or service.

Wow, Consumer Reports has competition.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Googling ScamOrNotReviews did not turn up a functioning website for this consumer group, nor any of their reviews. Links in the press releases purportedly to the reviews themselves went to what looked like advertisements for the products. In the case of Muscle Xlerator, it showed a young woman speaking in a heavy Russian (?) accent saying that the product will help build muscle mass. And beneath the videos were links to the websites that sell these products.

The press releases came from a company called AfterHim Media, LLC, a web design and search engine optimization company. Who do they really represent here? The illusive consumer group or the sellers of these products?

As to the product itself, Muscle Xlerator, the website claims that these capsules will “build muscle mass and get ripped quickly.” They offer a $5.95 trial, but in virtually unreadable type in a footnote it says:

*MOUSE PRINT:

If you are satisfied, do nothing and you agree to be charged $89.95. Plus you agree to be enrolled in our Auto-Ship Membership Program and 45 days from your initial order date and every 30 days thereafter, you will be shipped a fresh supply of MuscleXLerator for $89.95, plus $5.95 shipping and handling.

• • •

April 13, 2015

Cape Cod Potato Chips: 40% Reduced Fat?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:55 am

  When you are choosing which potato chips to eat, do you have an angel on one shoulder nagging you to take the low fat bag, and a devil on the other urging you to grab the regular chips?

MrConsumer experienced such a tug, and decided to be virtuous and try the ones with 40% less fat.

cape cod chips

They were not quite as greasy as the regular Cape Cod chips, which, of course, is why the regular ones taste so heavenly.

Upon reading and comparing the nutrition label of the 40% reduced fat chips versus the regular Cape Cod chips, MrConsumer got a shock.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cape Cod nutrition

He sacrificed that once-in-a-blue-moon treat of full-fat Cape Cod chips for a lousy 20 calories less? Yes, the 40% reduced fat chips were 200 calories and the regular ones were 220 — only 10% more calories. How could that be? Where’s the 40% savings?

First, a closer look at the fat reduction banner reveals that the comparison is not between regular Cape Cod and fat-reduced Cape Cod… but against the “leading brand” — presumably Lay’s. The actual fat difference between the two Cape Cod products is only a 25% reduction.

And then there is the incorrect assumption that a 40% reduction in fat translates into a 40% reduction in calories. It doesn’t. The potato itself counts for half the calories in the regular chips.

Next time MrConsumer has a chip choice, for the 20 extra calories, he may just splurge.

P.S. The Cape Cod reduced fat chips do indeed contain 40% less fat on a per ounce basis compared to Lay’s regular chips.

• • •

January 19, 2015

CVS Sued Over Eye Vitamin Claims

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:25 am

  In June 2014, we told you about some misleading claims (see story) made for CVS Advanced Eye Health vitamins, a product which purchasers might mistake for being just like Bausch + Lomb’s PreserVision — a vitamin proven to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Last week, CVS was sued in a California court by two men with AMD alleging the very things that we did.

In short, Bausch + Lomb’s PreserVision’s formula of six vitamins and minerals was tested (the AREDS2 tests) by the federal government and was shown to be effective in treating AMD which can lead to blindness. The CVS’ Eye Health product, typically located right next to PreserVision in its stores, and seemingly half the price, proclaims that it is comparable to the formula in AREDS2 studies. In fact, it only has two of the six proven ingredients. (Again, please see original story for a more detailed explanation.)

PreserVision vs. CVS

Unlike other false advertising issues, this one has serious health ramifications for anyone who didn’t compare the ingredients lists of the two products side by side. They could well be taking the CVS product thinking that it will slow their progression to blindness, when it probably has little or no effect.

At the time we reported the story originally in June 2014, CVS said they were in the process of removing the comparability claim from their packaging. But last week, they told the Consumerist that “CVS/pharmacy removed this statement from the product once the results of the AREDS2 study were released.”

Really? The results of the AREDS2 test were made public in early May 2013. So, it is inexplicable that a friend saw the CVS product with the same comparability claim still at a CVS store just last week. However, a check for the product at another nearby CVS revealed that a new version of the packaging without the AREDS2 claim was in that store:

CVS Eye Health

Interestingly, the company has reduced the dosage from four pills a day to just one, without changing the amount of ingredients per pill.

• • •

November 24, 2014

How Many One-A-Day Vitamins is Right to Take?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:03 am

 I know, what a dumb question. That’s like asking how many musketeers were in the three musketeers.

JCD, a regular Mouse Print* reader, brought up the issue in the context of One-A-Day vitamins.

One-A-Day

One would expect that you take one per day, right?

*MOUSE PRINT:

One-A-Day back

Nope… you have to take two.

You have to wonder how many people under-dosed on these vitamins because they reasonably assumed that the whole point of One-A-Day is to take one per day. Even at that, you are still not getting 100% of the daily requirement of some of the vitamins in the product.

Bottom line: don’t assume.

• • •

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.

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