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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.

*MOUSE PRINT:

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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September 13, 2010

Scott Toilet Paper: Here We Shrink Again

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:28 am

In the continuing retail race to shrink the size of a sheet of toilet paper to that of a postage stamp, Scott 1000 sheet rolls have been downsized again.

Exactly four years ago, we reported on Scott shortening each sheet on the roll from 4 inches to 3.7 inches.

Now, they are making each sheet narrower too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

It went from a full 4.5 inches wide to just 4.1 inches wide. A four pack now has almost 42 square feet less paper — a reduction of nine percent.

When the company was asked why they narrowed each sheet, a customer service representative replied:

This makes Scott “comparable with other brands on the market shelf” … and that there was “a slight improvement to make it thicker.”

How much thicker are the sheets now? Probably not too much as the new package weighs a full five ounces less than the old one.

Scott has a long history of downsizing its 1000 sheet rolls: 

Original: 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches

Pre-2006: 4.5 inches by 4.0 inches

9/2006: 4.5 inches by 3.7 inches

9/2010: 4.1 inches by 3.7 inches

The cumulative effect on consumers of all this downsizing is significant. Today’s roll is a full 25% smaller than the original.  Maybe they need to rename the product Scott 750.

As with all products that are downsized inconspicuously, it is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase because the customer is paying the same price, but getting less.

Thanks to eagle-eyed Mouse Print* reader Karen S. for this submission.




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November 5, 2007

Dial Soap: The Incredible Shrinking Bar

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:57 am

Once upon a time “bath size” bars of soap were all five ounces. Most have now been downsized to 4.5 ounces.

The latest move, however, is to go even smaller. Dial for Men is a prime example.

*MOUSE PRINT:  The 4.5 ounce bar is now 4.0 ounces — over 10% smaller.

dial soap small

OLD                                      NEW

So these three packs are 12 ounces instead of the old 13.5 ounces, but still priced the same.[Click picture to view net weight statement.] 

Downsizing is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase because you are getting less for your money but may not catch the change. As is typical for many downsized products, the manufacturer diverts your attention from the net weight statement to something else “new”. In this case, they are calling it a “new grip bar” because ridges have been carved into it.

I suspect it will still slip out of your hand when wet and sudsy, so wouldn’t you rather have that half-ounce back?




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December 24, 2018

Here We Downsize Again – Dec. 2018

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on January 7th.

We wrap up the year with another round of products that have been downsized.

 

Florida’s Natural

This has been the year of shrinking orange juice containers. First it was Tropicana and then Simply Orange followed suit. And now it’s Florida’s Natural that has gone from 59 ounces to just 52 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Florida's Natural

 

Cottonelle

Toilet paper is one of the categories subject to frequent downsizing. And a popular brand, Cottonelle has shrunk again. This time, it lost 40 sheets per roll. Thanks to our friend Richard G. for spotting this.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cottonelle

 

Charmin

But let’s not leave out the king of toilet tissue – Charmin. Their “strong” mega rolls went from 308 sheets to just 286 sheets per roll. Mega is not so mega anymore. Thanks to Richard G. again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin downsized

 

Sweet ‘n Low

Now here’s a product you would never expect to be downsized – those little Sweet ‘n Low packets. Eagled-eyed Nancy S. caught this inconspicuous change with each packet going from 0.04 ounces to 0.035 — five-thousands of an ounce less. But the packet says it is still equivalent to about two teaspoons of sugar.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sweet 'n Low

 

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

Next, we have Johnson’s Baby shampoo. Tom G. found that the old 15-ounce bottle is now just 13.6 ounces for the same price. It’s never too early to teach a child about downsizing.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Johnson's Baby shampoo

 

CVS Cashews

Finally, we have CVS cashews. A sharp-eyed shopper, Mario C., caught the fact that CVS lopped off three-quarters of an ounce from their own brand of whole cashews (like it is not bad enough that they charge over $15 for slightly more than a pound of nuts). The package redesign gave the drug chain an opportunity to change the net weight too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

CVS whole cashews

If you spot a product that has been recently downsized, please submit it to: edgar (at symbol) mouseprint.org




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November 26, 2018

Your Frozen Turkey Was Probably 10% Water

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

Anyone who has cooked corned beef from a Cryovac package knows that it shrinks up to nothing after boiling. And ham often suffers the same fate. In prior stories we have explained that both corned beef and ham are often injected with up to a 35% water and salt solution. Nothing like paying meat prices for water.

Now we turn to turkeys. At least in Boston, turkeys were offered at a giveaway price this year — 39 cents a pound — at a number of major chains. And at least one store did not require a $25 minimum purchase to snare one at that crazy low price. To MrConsumer’s surprise, however, all the 39-cent turkeys had been bulked up with “solution,” like a body builder on steroids.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Turkeys injected with solution

Various brands checked had all been injected with 9.5 percent water, salt, sugar, and flavoring. This is really nothing new, but it just wasn’t as obvious before (including to MrConsumer). Why? There was a change in USDA labeling rules as of 2018 that makes the presence of solution hard to miss. Now the added water weight must be disclosed in type at least 1/3 the size of the name of the product.

Why is solution even there to start with? Certainly there are sensory benefits to having turkeys pre-basted to make them more moist. And no doubt the companies make extra money by fattening up the birds with water.

Thank goodness it is only 9.5%, and not 35% as with other meats.




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