Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Consumer Group Takes Aim Against Happy Meal Toys

You might say "they're hatin' it," in marked contrast to McDonald's long-running slogan: "I'm Lovin' It." The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has issued a notice of intent to file a lawsuit against McDonald's, claiming Happy Meals toys lure kids into unhealthy eating habits and break state consumer-protection laws in multiple states. "McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," states the news release announcing the impending lawsuit. CSPI claims they will continue with the Happy Meal lawsuit if McDonald's does not stop offering toys with Happy Meals within the next 30 days.

McDonald's of course, strongly objects to the CSPI claims, stating: "We couldn’t disagree more with the misrepresentation of our food and marketing practices made by CSPI." The McDonald's statement notes that McDonald's participates in the Better Business Bureau's voluntary initiative to address children's well-being. It defends Happy Meals and notes that since 2008, U.S. customers have purchased 100 million of the meals with Apple Dippers. According to the statement, McDonald's served 31 million gallons of milk, which is three times the amount of milk served in 2004. In addition, the statement points out that the recent ads featuring the lovable ogre Shrek offer Apple Dippers and 1% milk instead of french fries and sugary soft drinks.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Magic Power Coffee Recall due to Viagra-Like Ingredient

Federal regulators are warning consumers away from Magic Power Coffee, coffee seemingly designed for men who want to stay awake and have more sex. Marketed as an all natural nutritional supplement, the Magic Power brand of instant coffee contains a substance similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in prescription ED medicine Viagra. Sildenafil can interact with nitrate-type medications commonly prescribed to patients for the treatment of hypertension, causing dangerous drops in blood pressure.

Most supplements are thought to be harmless and pose no health risk, however Magic Power Coffee can cause serious side effects. And, the addition of ingredients reserved for use in prescription drugs into
over the counter products is a violation of the law. Magic Power Coffee is just one of the male enhancement products flagged by federal regulators this year.

The coffee supplement is currently being sold online as part of a multi-level marketing program. FDA officials advise that the product be discarded. Adverse effects can be reported to the FDA by calling

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Uh-Oh SpaghettiOs!

According to the USDA, Campbell's Soup recalled 15 million pounds (35,000 cases) of SpaghettiOs with meatballs due to a cooker malfunction at the Paris Texas plant that left beef and noodles underprocessed. Underprocessing means that the product was not sufficiently heated until it reached commercial levels of sterility, which ensures shelf stability. Without shelf stability, the cans can not be sure to be free of microorganisms, like bacteria, and spoilage can occur. Since the company could not be sure exactly when the cooker malfunction occurred, they opted to err on the side of caution and issue the SpaghettiOs recall for all products manufactured at the affected plant between December 2008 and June 2010.

The specific products in question are:

* 14.75-ounce cans of "SpaghettiOs" with Meatballs with product code "U5" on the bottom of the can
* 14.75-ounce cans of "SpaghettiOs" A to Z with Meatballs with product code "4N" on the bottom of the can
* 14.75-ounce cans of "SpaghettiOs" Fun Shapes with Meatballs (Cars) with product code "KS" on the bottom of the can

They can also be identified with an establishment number "EST 4K" on the can and a "Use By" date between June 2010 and December 2011.

Were spoilage to have occurred, cans would appear bloated, or there would be a foul odor upon opening. If the product was consumed, nausea or vomiting are likely to occur. To date, there have been no reports of illness related to the SpaghettiOs recall.

Consumers in possession of products with identifying product codes KS, 4N or U5 should return those products to the place of purchase for a full refund. Any related questions may be directed to Campbell's
Hotline at (866) 495-3774.

Eight Cases of Salmonella Linked to Marie Callender's Recall

Eight cases of salmonellosis have been linked to the nationwide recall of Marie Callender’s brand Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals, according to state health and agriculture officials. The recall was initiated when the CDC informed ConAgra, the company that produces Marie Callender products, that of the 30 people diagnosed with a rare form of Salmonella, Salmonella Chester, 8 reported eating the product prior to becoming ill. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture was able to isolate Salmonella Chester from an intact package of Marie Callender's from one of those infected with the rare strain of salmonella. The Marie Callender's recall specifically includes 13-ounce packages of Marie Callender’s Cheesy Chicken & Rice White Meat Chicken and Broccoli over Rice Topped with Rich Cheddar Sauce.

More information is available from the USDAs' FSIS division. All packages of Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken & Rice with P45 inside the USDA inspection mark should be discarded and not consumed. Further consumer questions about the recall may be addressed by calling ConAgra Foods at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hi! My Name is Colette and I'm a Workaholic...

The great thing about cell phones, smartphones and laptops is you can always be reached.

The bad thing about cell phones, smartphones and laptops is... you can ALWAYS be reached.

That makes truly getting away from work and everyday stresses all the more difficult. Especially when you are a freelance contractor who works from home (like me!). And it seems that I am not alone. According to a story in this week's Wall Street Journal, half of working Americans come back from vacations actually feeling rested and rejuvenated. 56 percent of workers say they need a vacation more than ever after they return because of the amount of work that has piled up in their absence.

A 2002 study in the Netherlands claimed to find that relaxation attempts even causes something they termed "leisure sickness" in 3% of our vacationing population. Symptoms of leisure sickness include fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Huh... who'd have thought that withdrawing from stress and relaxing would be such a painful experience? But for some people, it seems that removing stress from their daily environment is comparable to steroid withdrawal and may be the cause of dramatic mood swings and changes in glucose metabolism.

Bryan E. Robinson, author of "Chained to the Desk, a Guidebook for Workaholics," theorizes that workaholics are driven by low self-esteem and fear of inadequacy." He continues, ""For a lot of workaholics, work alleviates anxiety, and when you are not working, the anxiety bubbles up." Sadly, I can see apply both of those statements pretty accurately to my life. Especially having all that time to fill since my kids have left the nest.

I've been talking alot lately about achieving balance in my life and leaving behind my workaholic tendencies. It seems that this has been easier said than done! So in keeping with my workaholic nature... I've come up with a plan to achieve some balance. (Did I mention I am list happy too?!)

1. Learning something new. While it's good to get outside of the comfort workzone, I've acknowledged that exploding out of it from a 17 hour work day to doing NOTHING just ain't gonna happen. Finding something to stimulate the brain that is not work related will keep the mind busy on a more "fun" pursuit. (I've decided to relearn high school Spanish and keyboards. Let's just hope I don't get as obsessed about that as I am with my "job"! LOL!)
2. Have a plan, but be flexible. Having scheduled work hours (mostly to designate a stop time) is a good thing. But flexibility is important too in case someone calls one morning for a quick trip to the beach ;) After all, that's why I opted out of corporate America to begin this freelance journey!
3. Get physical. Our bodies were just never meant to sit at a desk for 12+ hours a day. I've recently begun starting my day with an hour of either aerobic exercise or weight training. Exercise releases endorphins to put you in a better mood, as well as burns off excess adrenaline and cortisol that result from your daily stress.
4. Breathe. I've decided to end my work day with some time to meditate. A period of separation (so to speak) to end the work day and begin relaxation time. What I used to use my daily commute home from the office for.
5. Practice mindfulness. Work just as hard at "not working" as you do at working. Quit judging yourself and setting the bar so high. Be aware of times you do that and ask why. Focus on the moment. Be objective in observing your behavior to learn why what you've accomplished is never enough.

So now that I have my new checklist... we'll see how it goes. Let me know what you think... and I'll keep you posted ;)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tylenol Still Feeling the Pain

Five months ago (in January 2010), McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson and Johnson, recalled millions of Tylenol and Motrin products stemming from complaints of an "unusual moldy, musty or mildew-like odor. Four times over the last seven months, McNeil has had to recall products. A variety of McNeil products have been included in the recalls: Tylenol, Zyrtec, Motrin, Benadryl as well as its children's line of non-prescription drugs.

On June 5, 2010, McNeil announced it was expanding the original January recall because some products were "inadvertently ommitted from the initial recall." UNBELIEVABLE! The drugmaker has now added four additional lots of Benadryl allergy ultratab tablets (100 count), and one product lot of extra strength Tylenol rapid release gels (50 count) to the recall.

McNeil's string of recalls has garnered a great deal of attention from the FDA. According to the FDA compliance office, the FDA has "serious concerns about the company's control over the quality of its drugs and the company's failure to aggressively investigate and correct quality problems." The case has been referred to the crime division, and criminal prosecution is a possibility.

Sony PlayStation Move Launch

The complete PlayStation Move Champions bundle with the PlayStation Eye, Move and the game will run $99.99, while the Move controller will run $49.99. New PS3 console bundles that include the Move controller will price at $399.99. The controller will be available in the States on September 19, 2010, and is currently available for preorder at Best Buy and GameStop, with estimated delivered dates between November 1st and 6th.

Nationwide Lobster Recall: Listeria Contamination

The FDA announced that a nationwide US lobster meat recall was issued after tests determined it could be contaminated with Listeria. The recall affects the Portland Shellfish Company, Inc., Claw island, Craig's All Natural, and Inland Ocean products thaqt shipped between May 12 and June 8, 2010. The lobster meat was sold via cooked, fresh or frozen packages in both wholesale and retail stores. Check the FDA website for a complete listing of lot numbers and package types before eating any lobster purchased from the aforementioned companies. Specific questions may be addressed by contacting Portland Shellfish at 207-699-5505 during standard business hours. Return recalled lobster to the place of purchase for a refund. As of June 17, no illnesses had been reported due to ingestion of any affected lobster.

Listeria may cause a variety of digestive tract problems as well as headaches, stiffness and fever in otherwise healthy people. Listeria may be potentially fatal in young children, the frail, and the elderly.

Now it's Time to say Good-bye

With the current economic climate, several retail staples are at death's door. According to 24/7 Wall St, brands that you have become familiar with that are rumored to be closing their doors by 2011 are:

1. Zales (made the Forbes list for firms with extreme financial risk)
2. Reader's Digest (it seems that large, widely circulated magazines like Newsweek, US News, TV Guide and Reader's Digest have no future in America in their current form)
3. Blockbuster (thanks to video on demand, Red Box and Netflix)
4. Dollar Thrifty Car Rental (Avis and Hertz are battling out purchase options)
5. T-Mobile (may be merging with with Sprint-Nextel or Virgin Mobile)
6. Moody’s Corp. (arguably with the largest negative brand equity in the U.S. due to scandals)
7. BP (watch for a company restructuring and renaming to rebuild its badly crippled brand, similar to when it changed from British Petroleum. Second time's a charm?)
8. RadioShack (currently a takeover target, perhaps by Best Buy?)
9. Merrill Lynch (look for a renaming to Bank of America Investment Management)
10. Kia Motors Corp. (Hyandai will likely dump its weakest link)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

North Korea Threatens War

On June 15, North Korea issued a statement denying to the United Nations community that it sank the South Korean ship, and warning that this dispute could lead to a full-scale war with South Korea. At the UN Security Council meeting, North Korean Ambassador Sin Son Ho accused South Korea of "fabricating" the results of the investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan and the resulting loss of 46 South Korean sailors. North Korea's Sin Son Ho closed their presentation with statements that "A war may break out any time," stating that "If the Security Council releases any documents against us, condemning or pressuring us ... then myself as diplomat, I can do nothing. ... The follow-up measures will be carried out by our military forces." The UN is rightly concerned about the impact of the March 26, 2010 sinking of the Cheonan on "peace and stability on the Korean peninsula."

The Japanese UN ambassador backed up South Korea's claims, stating that "there is no other explanation" than that the South Korean ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo.

North Korea, I admit, is a touchy subject with me, as my brother, CWO David Hilemon, was shot down while on a routine training mission in his OH-58 scout helicopter on 10:02 A.M., December 17, 1994. The eratic personality of their leader has definitely set the tone for the behavior of their government and military as a whole. So while more attention is paid to the tensions in the Middle East, I always have one eye on North Korea.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jimmy Dean (August 10, 1928 - June 13, 2010)

Jimmy Dean died Sunday night, June 13, 2010 at 7:54 PM EDT in his Virginia home. While most of you remember him for his breakfast sausages, Jimmy Dean was a country music legend, television show host
and actor long before the sausage came along :) And he has the distinction of firing Roy Clark as the lead guitarist for his band for being constantly late.

After dropping out of high school to help his mom, his first big country "hit" that garned national attention was "Big Bad John"... a crossover hit long before Garth and Shania. It was followed by another hit, "PT 109," a song written in honor of John F Kennedy's heroism during World War II.

Dean became a major TV personality in the 1960s as host of The Morning Show which aired right before Captain Kangaroo (a show I remember fondly!) He even guest hosted the Tonight Show from time to time before his ABC variety series, The Jimmy Dean Show aired. His best-known acting role was playing the reclusive Las Vegas billionaire Willard Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever. Just this past February, Dean was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

$55 Instant Aciphex Coupon

Get a $55 Aciphex coupon to save on the retail cost of the once daily proton pump inhibitor medication used in the treatment acid reflux disease, ulcers and GERD. Once you join the Aciphex Savings Program and provide the appropriate information, you will be able to download the $55 Aciphex coupon that can be used towards your next purchase. (Restrictions as listed on the website do apply). If you are new to the drug, rather than the $55 Aciphex coupon, Savings Program subscribers may opt for the 14-day free trial.

$15 Off Nasonex Coupons

Just in time for allergy season! $15 off Nasonex coupons that can be printed off from your computer. Taken once daily as prescribed by your doctor, Nasonex relieves the itchy nose, runny nose, sneezing and congestion symptoms caused by dust mites, pet dander, even tree and grass pollen. Follow the link to the Nasonex website and sign up for your $15 Nasonex coupon. The Nasonex coupon will save you up to $180 a year on allergy symptom relief!