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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 prodcut.

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.

• • •

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 8, 2014

Honestly, Could They Make the Disclosure Any Smaller?

Filed under: Health,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

 While watching TV the other night, MrConsumer saw a tiny disclosure at the end of a baby products commercial for The Honest Company. (That’s really their name.) It went by so quickly, and was so small and faint in color, it was very hard to read:

The Honest Company
Click ad to see commercial.

Here is what it says about their “free” trial.

*MOUSE PRINT:

*Only $5.95 for shipping and handling. You’ll be automatically enrolled in our monthly service. Cancel the service at anytime.

Their website gives more details.

*MOUSE PRINT:

*With your Discovery Kit, you’ll be enrolled as a member of The Honest Company. You have 7 days following receipt of your Discovery Kit to cancel your membership at any time, for any reason. We will remind you about your membership options. If you choose to not cancel, you’ll be charged $79.95 /month for the Diapers & Wipes Bundle, $35.95/month for the Essentials Bundle, or $39.95/month for your Health & Wellness Bundle (plus shipping & handling).

Basically, this company founded by actress Jessica Alba offers (among other things) a book-of-the-month-type service for baby supplies, shampoo and detergent, and vitamins. You will keep getting automatic deliveries every month, starting after seven days following receipt of your samples unless you cancel.

While their website makes clear that this is a monthly plan with monthly charges for these packages of goods, why do their TV commercials hide that fact particularly when they call themselves The Honest Company? Their television ad also seems to run counter to what their statement of principles claims:

Create a Culture of Honesty

We are serious about honesty – both as it applies to the integrity of our relationships and in being true to you. And, it’s a standard we encourage throughout our staff, stakeholders, and customers. But, that’s just the beginning. In all we do, we want to make each day a little more fulfilling, inspired, and downright better.

Mouse Print* asked the company twice to comment about their use of such a small disclosure and on this seeming contradiction of their corporate philosophy. We are still waiting for their response and will post it here… honestly.

• • •

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.

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