Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

March 2011 Archives

Tylenol Recall: Musty Odor Prompts Another Recall

Johnson & Johnson has announced yet another Tylenol recall. This one is a voluntary consumer recall of eight-hour extended-release caplets because of a “musty or moldy odor.”  About 34,000 bottles are being recalled although the company says any health risk from the caplets is “remote”.

The latest Tylenol recall involves more than 34,000 bottles of Tylenol 8 Hour Extended Release, which were distributed throughout the U.S. All of the products come from lot number ADM074, which is on the bottom of the bottles.

The company also announced it’s expanding a previous recall announced in January. Unlike the Tylenol caplet recall, the expanded recall, which involves 10 lots of other products, is being undertaken on the wholesale level and is not based on adverse events, according to the company.

About 718,000 bottles or packages of Tylenol, Benadryl and Sudafed products are involved in the recall. A complete list of affected products lists which ones are recalled.

It's the sixth time that the New Brunswick-based company has recalled nonprescription medicines because of complaints about an odor.

The odor is thought to be caused by trace amounts of a chemical used to treat wooden pallets on which bottles are stored and shipped. The company previously said it has stopped using wooden pallets.

These are the latest recalls involving products made at a now-shuttered plant in Fort Washington, Pa., and they continue what some analysts see as a never-ending problem at Johnson & Johnson. The New York Times reports that the company has been plagued by manufacturing and quality problems in its popular over-the-counter medicines, including many of its children’s products, that forced the closure of one plant and an overhaul of its procedures.

As part of the process to try to address past issues and bring the closed plant up to federal standards, the company has been reviewing manufacturing records of over-the-counter drugs and recalling certain products as a result.

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson reached an agreement with federal regulators that imposes greater federal oversight of manufacturing of products made by its McNeil unit. Even before this latest Tylenol recall, regulators said manufacturing processes failed to comply with federal law.

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Campbell Soup 'Low Sodium' Lawsuit Can Go Forward

Is Campbell Soup's "low-sodium" not as low in sodium as you think?

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to go ahead against Campbell Soup Co, the world's largest soup-maker, over whether its purported "low-sodium" tomato soup really has less sodium, Reuters reports.

Four New Jersey women had sued the company last year, contending they were misled into paying more for the "low sodium" brand. They say it had almost as much sodium as Campbell's regular tomato soup.

Now U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle ruled a class-action lawsuit can proceed because reasonable consumers could have found Campbell's labels misleading.

"It was reasonable for plaintiffs to expect that the soups they were receiving had 25 percent to 30 percent less sodium than the regular tomato soup, when the soups in fact had approximately the same amount of sodium," Judge Simandle wrote in his opinion.

Campbell said last year it planned to further reduce sodium levels up to 45 percent in some of its products, the Star-Ledger reports.

"Consumers should not have to read the back of the soup can to be sure the information on the front is truthful," a lawyer for the women, Lester Levy of Wolf Popper LLP, said in a statement, Reuters reports.

Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell, known for the "M'm! M'm! Good!" advertising slogan, said the allegations are without merit and it will fight the case in court.

"Campbell has complete confidence in the accuracy of our labels and our marketing communications and that they meet regulatory and other legal requirements," Campbell said in a statement.


Radiation fears have led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban certain milk and food imports from Japan.

The FDA has banned imports of dairy products and produce from the area of Japan where a nuclear reactor is leaking radiation, reports MSNBC.

On Wednesday a spike in radiation in Tokyo tap water caused new worries about Japan's food safety. Broccoli was added to the list of contaminated vegetables. Fish, as of now, is allowed but will be first screened for radiation. 

Banned items include milk products, fruit and vegetables from the four areas near Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was hard hit by the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami. 

The FDA said those foods will be detained at entry and will not be sold to the public. The agency previously said it would just step up screening of those foods, CNN reports.

Japanese foods make up less than 4 percent of all U.S. imports, and the FDA said it expects no risk to the U.S. food supply from radiation. Officials and health experts say the doses are low and not a threat to human health unless the tainted products are consumed in abnormally excessive quantities, the Associated Press reports.

Still, the World Health Organization said this week that Japan should act quickly to ensure that no contaminated foods are sold. The most common imports from Japan to the United States are seafood, snack foods, and processed fruits and vegetables, according to MSNBC.

Some of these food products have already been officially taken off the domestic and export markets. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan had previously ordered the governors of these four prefectures to halt the distribution of spinach and the local vegetable kakina and told the governor of Fukushima to cease all raw milk distribution, the FDA said.

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ATT/T-Mobile Merger: What Does It Mean For You?

The internet is abuzz with talk of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger--and with good reason.

AT&T has agreed to purchase the German carrier's U.S. operations for $39 billion. If approved, AT&T would control 42% of the U.S. cellular market, followed by Verizon at 31%. The remaining portions of the market are controlled by dozens of small carriers.

What exactly does this impending AT&T-Verizon duopoly mean for consumers?

To start, the AT&T/T-Mobile merger is not going to remain as is, without any government oversight. The companies must go through a pre-merger notification process with the Department of Justice's Antitrust Section, as well as garner approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Admittedly, this process will not be easy. There will be a lot of argument about how to analyze the wireless market for competition purposes, and everyone will want a say. Including consumer groups and other competitors.

This, however, is a good thing for consumers.

The economic analysis that the agencies conduct includes consideration of prices, service and products. The DOJ and FCC will be looking closely at small carriers, what a duopoly will mean for prices, and how the merger impacts universal broadband and the spread of 4G technology.

There's no doubt that the AT&T/T-Mobile merger will be approved. But, it will be approved with pro-consumer caveats.

Conditions that can be placed on AT&T are numerous. In these situations, they often involve preservation of low-cost plans and an agreement to provide certain services or build out infrastructure. The FCC and President have been focusing on national broadband, which will likely be part of the deal.

There's no telling whether your actual cellular service will improve, but if the government does its job, your costs shouldn't really increase, and you should end up with more options from the two main carriers. But keep in mind that Verizon also has to play along, and there's no telling what the company will do.

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Another class-action lawsuit has been filed against Netflix, this time for an alleged violation of federal privacy law regarding the protection of people who rent movies. The Netflix privacy lawsuit was filed by Peter Comstock, a resident of Virginia. Comstock alleges that Netflix has been violating the Video Privacy Protection Act on an ongoing basis, MediaPost reports. 

The plaintiffs seek $2,500 per violation of the VPPA, as well as $3,000 per violation of the Consumer Records Act, in addition to punitive damages. Netflix has been hit by a number of related class action lawsuits over the course of the past year. 

Comstock says that Netflix violated the VPPA by retaining customer data regarding users' movie rental history as well as recommendations. Congress passed the VPPA after a newspaper printed the video rental records of Judge Robert Bork in the course of his Supreme Court nomination. 

According to the lawsuit, Netflix "purposefully retains confidential information regarding both payment and video viewing habits for millions of individuals -- even after their subscriptions are canceled," reports. However, the question remains as to whether the VPPA applies to online rentals.

The VPPA specifically says it prohibits companies that sell or rent video cassette tapes "or similar audio visual materials" from recording the movie choices of consumers. Whether Netflix would qualify remains to be seen. 

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Radiation Fears Make Pill Popular in Hawaii

The chance that radiation from Japan's malfunctioning nuclear reactor will travel 4,000 miles to the coast of Hawaii causing widespread radiation poisoning is virtually nil. And if it did, there'd be ample warning.

This may placate most of us on the mainland, but it's not doing much for Hawaiians, who sit a few thousand miles closer to the tsunami-hit country. Instead of taking comfort in these facts, locals are out looking for protection.

Hawaiians have bought up nearly all of the local supply of potassium iodide, an over-the-counter drug that is marketed as protection against the harmful effects of radiation.

In the right doses and for the right persons, potassium iodide can help prevent radiation-induced thyroid cancer, explains the Contra Costa Times. But for people who suffer from iodine sensitivity, dermatitis herpetiformis, hypocomplementemic vasculitis, multinodular goiter, Graves' disease or autoimmune thyroiditis, potassium idodide can do more harm than good.

Though residents are panicking, the government doesn't expect Hawaii to have any problems. It, however, is monitoring the situation, and so should you.

Now, this is not a call to whip out the Geiger counter or start popping pills. It merely means that you should monitor your own intake of potassium iodide, looking for any harmful side effects.

And for those of you who have some potassium iodide that you'd like to sell, it's a suggestion that you monitor state law. You may not have the requisite license to sell over-the-counter drugs, and price gouging during emergent situations tends to be illegal.


Are you a fan of Lean Cuisine? The brand of frozen entreés and dinners is sold in the United States, Canada, and Australia by Nestle. The brand was created in 1981 as a low fat, low calorie spinoff of Stouffers.

Low calorie options are nice to have, but not if the food has plastic in it. According to a Nestle recall over 10,000 pounds of Lean Cuisine frozen spaghetti and meatball dinners were recalled due to the possible presence of foreign materials, the Department of Agriculture said. However, the health risk associated with the recall is minimal, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service said. While consuming plastic is never a good idea, even if a recalled Lean Cuisine unit is eaten, there is a minimal probability of adverse health consequences, Reuters reports. 

The recall came after Nestle received complaints from consumers who claimed to have found hard plastic in their frozen Lean Cuisine meals, the FSIS said. Nestle has said that the recalled products were only sold easy of the Rocky Mountains. If you want to check your Lean Cuisine package, look out for 9.5 ounce units called "Lean Cuisine Simple Favorites, Spaghetti with Meatballs" with establishment number "EST 7991." They will also be marked best before November 2011. 

If you have questions about the Lean Cuisine recall, you can contact Nestle Prepared Foods Co. at (866) 606-8264 or You should not consume the product. Nestlé will provide a replacement coupon to reporting consumers and also may make arrangements to retrieve the product for further examination.

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A stolen identity can ruin your financial life for years, making it difficult to get a credit card, buy a house or car, or even find a job. The fact that identity theft victims may not discover a breach of their personal information for months makes this even more painful. Thieves have a disturbing amount of time to wreak havoc.

With the spread of the Internet, identity theft has become easier to perpetrate, increasing the number of victims exponentially. Through good habits--shredding important papers, using secure networks, and varying passwords--can help prevent a stolen identity, the fact is that there is no guarantee that your identity won't be stolen.

Therefore, in addition to working actively to prevent a stolen identity, it's a good idea to work actively to detect a stolen identity. All it requires is a little awareness.

The first step in detecting identity theft is to read your financial statements. This means credit card and ATM statements. Look for strange charges--amounts, businesses, and even locations.

And what happens when you don't receive your statements? Or any other mail related to your accounts? It's possible you may have been switched to paperless billing, but it's also possible that you could have a stolen identity. Be wary when these things don't show up.

If you don't watch your accounts and ignore missing mail, things can get worse, making identity theft easier to detect. It's likely that your identity has been stolen if you're receiving unexpected calls from debt collectors, mail about unknown accounts or transactions, or are being offered unfavorable credit terms. Do not ignore these signs.

As you can see, detecting a stolen identity isn't a particularly difficult task. In fact, it involves things that we should all be doing anyway--looking at statements, watching for mail, and questioning strange debts.

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Sudden cardiac death has become a growing concern regarding teen athletes. The tragic case of Wes Leonard in Michigan once again brought the issue to the surface. Leonard was 16 when he died of cardiac arrest during a basketball game last week. After an autopsy, it was discovered that he had an enlarged heart. 

While cardiac arrest cannot be prevented entirely, here are five ways that you can help protect teens:

  1. Know the Warning Signs. If your child has fainted, experienced a racing heart, or had shortness of breath while exercising, you should take precautions. Although “Most of the time [they faint] because they’re dehydrated or have low blood pressure, but it could be due to a heart condition."
  2. Have a defibrillator on hand at athletic competitions. Automated external defibrillator (AED) are portable devices that can be used to revive a person that is having a cardiac arrest. 
  3. Extensively screen athletes ahead of time. "A more complete physical and more attention to details certainly is indicated, and I think that this is highlighted unfortunately by when we see the catastrophic events, such as the last two weeks,"  Dr. Roosevelt Gilliam, cardiologist at Healthcare Medical Group in Jonesboro, Arkansas, said, CNN reports.
  4. Use the American American Heart Association 12 step guide for pre-participation screening. The guide outlines the detailed history that should be collected from each athlete, such as whether anyone in the family has died unexpectedly under the age of 50, and whether he or she has a heart murmur, reports. "Is every kid getting the 12-point American Heart Association-recommended screening, and are they getting it by the right kind of person? Let's start with that," said Dr. Martin Maron, a cardiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and an expert on conditions that cause sudden death in athletes.
  5. Get a Sports Physical and Take it Seriously. Carefully consider each question carefully in light of your family history, after countless sudden cardiac deaths like Wes Leonard's, it's worth it. Lisa Salberg, president of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA), suggests the Pediatric and Young Adult Sudden Cardiac Risk Assessment Form . If you answer yes to any of the questions on the form Salberg recommends requesting an EKG.

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Remodeling Your Home: How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

Considering a kitchen remodel? Want to build an addition onto your home? Want to know how to avoid getting ripped-off by your home contractor?

FindLaw recently broke down this exact subject in its Tips for Better Remodeling or Landscaping Projects. Any  homeowners looking to hire a contractor would be wise to read these tips.

Here are five steps to help you avoid getting ripped-off:

(1) Know what the potential scams are. Unfortunately, not all contractors operate fully within the law, and they often give a bad name to those who do. Be aware of the potential contractor rip-offs, such as discount offers, up-front payment requests, those with no local directory listings, cash payment requirements, and door-to-door solicitations. Also, any contractor that requires you to make a same-day decision should be shown the nearest exit.

(2) Research different types of contractors. You wouldn't buy a car without researching the different car models, nor should you hire a contractor before knowing what types of home improvement professionals exist. You may need a general contractor to handle a larger project, or simply a specialty contractor (such as a kitchen design specialist) for those smaller projects.

(3) Ask friends, family, and neighbors for referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals from trusted friends, family members, and neighbors can lead you to a bevy of qualified contractors, designers, and other professionals in your area. Don't be afraid to reach out and let them know exactly what you are looking for.

(4) Know what questions to ask. After you've chosen two or three contractors to interview, it is important to ask the appropriate questions, such as whether they are licensed and bonded with the state, how many projects they have worked on, and what types of insurance they carry. Never ever trust a contractor who says it's ok to proceed without permits.

(5) Check references. Finally, once you've decided on a contractor, it is imperative that you ask for at least three or four references of previous clients. Talking with someone with first-hand knowledge can give you insight into a contractor's work habits, cost, time issues, and other factors. Don't forget to ask to see the contractors work (again, you wouldn't buy a car sight unseen, would you)?

These tips can be found on FindLaw's Contractors and Home Improvement section within Learn About the Law's Real Estate Center. Following these steps will most certainly help you avoid getting ripped-off by your contractor the next time you embark on a home improvement project.

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What to Do When Someone Has Stolen Your Identity

Identity theft remains a growing concern as the world becomes increasingly digital. So what should you do in the case of a stolen identity? 

The key is responding immediately once you discover the stolen identity. By contrast, many identity theft victims miss early warning signs and wait before they respond. Even if you discover identify theft after the damage has been done, there is a lot that you can do about it

There is much at stake when you suffer a stolen identity. Identity theft victims on average lose $10,000 per attack, though they can typically recover the stolen money. Fortunately here at FindLaw, we're on top of it. Here are some steps you can take if you suffer identity theft. 

1. Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Reports

If you contact any of the three companies that maintain credit reports, they are required to contact the others to alert them of the potential fraud. However, it's still a good idea to contact all three. The credit reporting companies are: 

  • TransUnion: (1-800-680-7289;; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790)  
  • Equifax: (1-800-525-6285;; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241)
  • Experian: (1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013)

2. Close All Accounts That May Have Been Tampered or Opened Fraudulently

Any accounts that you suspect have been compromised should be closed. Contact each company's fraud or security department, and follow up in writing.

3. File a Complaint with the FTC

By filing with the FTC, you accomplish two important goals: it helps you recover your money and also helps law enforcement officials track down and apprehend identity thieves. To contact the FTC, you can go to:

  • 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338), TYY: 1-866-653-4261;; Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580.

4. File a Police Report

Contact local police department and file an official report about your identity theft. Frequently, the report can be filed over the phone or internet. 

There are also a number of additional actions that you may want to take. For more information, check out our Learn About the Law article entitled "Stolen Identity: What to Do."

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Did Amazon Share its User’s Private Information?

You can do a lot to protect your privacy on the Internet. You can block cookies, create elaborate passwords, and only do business with companies with strong privacy policies. But even if you do these things and twenty others, the fate of your information comes down to one thing and one thing only: persistence.

One company clearly has that persistence, and it is no other than Amazon.

Privacy policy documents on the company's website promise not to share user information with third parties for the purpose of advertising; but according to a class-action lawsuit filed in Washington, after tampering with users' computers, that's exactly what Amazon is doing.

The breach of the Amazon privacy policy begins with a breach of users' privacy settings, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Microsoft's Internet Explorer comes equipped with different privacy settings that limit the type of personal information a website can collect. As the paper explains it, Amazon uses a work-around to trick IE into believing that it is "more privacy-protective than it actually is." The work-around essentially allows the site to collect more information than a user would normally permit.

The complaint alleges that, after being subject to this trickery, the named plaintiffs received snail mail from third parties--an act in direct contradiction of the Amazon privacy policy.

The plaintiffs contend that Amazon caused them (and the rest of the class) financial harm by wrongfully selling personal information that has a discernible value in the marketplace. They also allege that Amazon illegally tampered with its patrons' computers, which is generally considered a crime.

Though it's not 100% clear whether or not tricking IE violates consumer protection or criminal laws, it is important to note that the practice is industry-wide. According to a recent study, a large chunk of websites provide false information in order to collect users' personal information. It appears that no matter what you do, your information is never completely safe.

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The recall bell keeps a ringin' The lastest announcement come from Nissan, recalling nearly 271,000 older-model Pathfinder and Infiniti QX4 SUVs in North America due to the chance that road salt and water could collect to cause a loss of steering, U.S. safety regulators said.

Affected in the United States and Canada are about 225,650 Pathfinders from model years 1996 to 2004 and about 45,330 Infiniti QX4 SUVs from model years 1997 to 2003, Reuters reports.

The recall affects Pathfinders and QX4s in Canada and 20 cold-weather U.S. states where road salt is used to keep roads clear of snow and ice.

Road salt and melted snow can collect in the strut housing and may cause corrosion that could lead to difficulty in steering and even loss of steering, which could cause a crash, regulators told Reuters. 

Nissan will inform customers of the recall be mid-May, and its dealers will inspect and fix the issue free of charge.

No injuries have been reported due to this issue and there is a report of an accident that was caused by it, but Nissan said that report could not be confirmed as linked to the corrosion issue.

Nissan said their tests have indicated that only a small portion of the recalled vehicles are expected to need repair, Reuters reports.

Inspection at Nissan dealers should take a half hour to an hour but repair or replacement will take longer, said a Nissan spokesman.

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Men, how would you like to choose between having sex or suffering pain? A recent Journal of Urology article suggests that men who use aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a higher risk of erectile dysfunction, reports USA Today.

This study was limited to men between the ages of 45 and 69 who were members of Kaiser managed care plans in California.

The study found that regular users are about 2.4 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than men who didn't use aspirin. Scientists took into consideration men's age, race and ethnicity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, as well as other factors related to age. They found that there was a link between the aspirin use and erection problems, Steve Jacobsen, director of research for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, told USA Today.

Not everyone is convinced, however.

Stephen Kraus, professor and vice chairman of urology at the University of Texas Health Science Center says the results raise more questions than they answer. He says that the drugs have many proven benefits, and that men whose doctors have prescribed NSAIDs for other reasons shouldn't stop using them.

Kraus said aspirin and NSAIDs can reduce risk of heart disease. Therefore, the same must be true for erectile dysfunction which is linked to circulation problems. "If it works for one, you'd think it should work for the other. But lo and behold, the opposite is what they saw in this study. The question is why?" Kraus says.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) protects the public health by assuring food and drugs are safe and they encourage continuing clinical trials to find the dangers as well as the benefits of drugs. If you have any lingering concerns, ask your doctor about your medicine usage.

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Makers of toys and cribs now have more time to comply with new laws regulating lead testing and certification of their products.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted 4 to 1 to extend the stay of enforcement for testing and certification of lead content in children's products until December 31, 2011, says a CPSC news release.

In 2007, millions of toys and children’s products, mostly from China, were pulled from store shelves because they contained lead paint which is known to cause lead poisoning, among other hazards. In 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and gave the CPSC more money and authority.

Now, manufacturers of toys and other children’s products are pushing to quash new safety regulations that they say are unfair or too onerous.

Manufacturers of toys and other children's products are trying to reduce the new safety regulations they claim is unfair or too onerous, reports The New York Times.

Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, suggest the regulations are too broad and need to be revised.

"Let’s focus more on real dangers to our children of perceived ones” said Representative Mary Bono Mack at the subcommittee hearing.

A new consumer products database, operated by the CPSC scheduled to go online in 3 weeks may also be delayed. Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo was successful in passing an amendment to an appropriations bill to strip financing for the database.

Pompeo said that manufacturers need to be protected from bogus complaints and lawsuits.

“I’m an engineer. I love data. But I know what people put online,” Mr. Pompeo said at a meeting of the House subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade last week. “I think this is a plaintiff’s bar dream.”

However, Democrats have the majority in the Senate and are determined to block such measures.

Starting December 31, 2011, children's products from manufacturers and importers subject to the lead testing for lead content limit, must have the appropriate certificates showing they have been tested by a CPSC-approved 3rd party laboratory before they can be sold in the United States.

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A peanut butter recall has been announced for two kinds of Skippy reduced fat peanut butter. The Skippy recall was announced after routine tests suggested the products may be contaminated with the salmonella bacteria.

The Skippy recall, for jars delivered to 16 states, involves 16.3-ounce plastic jars of Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread.

Salmonella is a frequent cause of food poisoning and can cause severe infections.

UPC codes for the recalled products, located on the side of the label below the bar code, are 048001006812 and 048001006782.

Stamped on the jar lid, the recalled products carry these best-if-used-by dates:

  • MAY1612LR1
  • MAY1712LR1
  • MAY1812LR1
  • MAY1912LR1
  • AY2012LR1
  • MAY2112LR1

According to a press release for the Skippy recall, the products were distributed in 16 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Those affected with salmonella may have symptoms including fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare cases infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses like arterial infections.

Consumers who have purchased the potentially tainted peanut butter are urged to discard the jars and contact the company for a replacement coupon at 1-800-453-3432.

An internal routine sampling initiated by Unilever led to the discovery that some of the jars of the finished product contained the bacteria, the release said.

The Skippy recall has not been linked to any illnesses, as of yet, the release said.

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You can't please everyone all the time. Groupon has recently had to learn that lesson, after being slammed for a Super Bowl commercial, criticized for customer issues with their Groupon coupons and sued in federal court for allegedly violating Illinois law by offering illegal expiration dates, NBC Chicago reports. 

Customers have told stories of bait-and-switch in some cases when they have tried to redeem a coupon from Groupon. One man questioned his Groupon rights after he said that when he took his wife out for sushi with a Groupon, they were immediately asked "are you using the Groupon tonight?" When they said yes, the waiter began crossing off non-full price items and dinner specials. "He proceeded to take the specials menu and cross off the prices, and write higher prices, which was getting even stranger," the diner told ABC. 

If you're using a Groupon, it is smart to read the fine print, looking for restrictions. If you get to a location and they refuse to accept it or they act rude about it, the best option is to leave. You can tell the manager why you are leaving, but be careful not to make any threats or behave in a way that could cause your arrest. When you get home, contact Groupon, as they say they are willing to give refunds to any customers with negative experiences such as the sushi story above. 

If Groupon refused to provide the refund, you would have legal Groupon rights to use. Possible recourse would be against either Groupon, the business offering the Groupon coupon, or both. 

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Mazda Recall: Spiders Blamed for Mazda 6 Recall

Who is to blame for this week's Mazda recall? Spiders. That's right, a Mazda recall of 52,000 Mazda 6 cars from 2009 and 2010 is due to spider web dangers. Yep, spider webs.

The Yellow Sac spider can potentially get inside of fuel tanks, which can create a blockage that eventually causes a fuel tank leak, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The spiders don't like the cold, and have found that the inside of the fuel tank is a warm safe place, albeit a temporary one.

The Yellow Sac spider "may weave a web in the evaporative canister vent line and this may cause a restriction in the line," the NHTSA said in a statement. Mazda has noted 20 cases so far in the recall.

If your vehicle is part of the Mazda recall, spider or no spider, dealers will inspect and clean up the canister vent line and install a spring to keep such spiders from entering the vent. The service is done free of charge beginning around March 25. Owners can contact Mazda at 1-800-222-5500.

Owners may also contact the NHTSA vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to

Recalls are usually a pretty boring affair, but throw in a spider and you get gems like this: 

"Why it chose the Mazda6 over any other vehicle I'm not sure ... Apparently, the spider likes to go zoom zoom," spokesman Jeremy Barnes told USA Today of the Mazda recall, spiders edition.   

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Untested Allergy, Cold Medicine Pulled by FDA

Spring cleaning came early for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has ordered the removal of more than 500 allergy and cold medicine drugs from the market, according to the New York Times.

The medications are being removed because they were never tested or reviewed for their safety and effectiveness. Deborah Autor, the director of the office of compliance in the FDA’s drug division, says:

“We don’t know what’s in them, whether they work properly or how they are made. We do not know if they are safe. We do not know if they are effective. We do not know if they have adequate quality. We do not even necessarily know who they are. And we believe that poses an untenable risk to consumers."

The FDA requires all new prescription drugs be submitted for scientific review before being released to the public. However, many cold and allergy drugs predate these regulations and escaped scrutiny.

So the agency said manufacturers of the unapproved cold drugs have 90 days to cease production and 180 days to stop shipping them, reports the Washington Post.

"Removing these unapproved products from the market will reduce potential risks to consumers," Autor said.

FDA officials are confident that relief from colds and allergies can be found in over-the-counter products that have already been approved.

The FDA promotes public health by regulating consumer goods such as food, drugs, tobacco and medications. Most of their power comes from the Drug and Food and Drug and Cosmetic Act, and the Public Health Service Act.

Here is a full list of the Unapproved Prescription Cough, Cold, and Allergy Products.

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DEA Bans Spice, K2 and Other Types of Fake Pot

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Up in smoke. That is what some might say on hearing the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) banned the chemicals used to make Spice, K2 and similar "fake pot" products, reports USA Today.

In essence, synthetic marijuana compounds containing JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, or cannabicyclohexanol are now officially illegal after the DEA placed these chemicals in the federal drug Schedule I on an emergency basis. They are now designated as having a high potential for abuse with no medical use.

Until now, Spice and K2 have been marketed as legal, fake pot and were often sold as herbal incense. They are popular with college students and teens.

According to the DEA, smoking these chemicals can cause convulsions, anxiety attacks, and dangerously elevated heart rates along with vomiting and disorientation. The DEA states:

This emergency action was necessary to prevent an imminent threat to public health and safety. The temporary scheduling action will remain in effect for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled.

The DEA was created in 1973 under the Nixon administration to enforce the federal drug laws in addition to consolidating and coordinating governmental drug control.

You don't want to get caught with these drugs since the penalty for simple possession of an ounce or less of a Federal Drug Schedule 1 item can be up to a $1000 fine. Moreover, possession of more than an ounce can be up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.

The DEA says there is a strong public safety rational behind this action. According to Time Magazine, "Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous'fake pot' products and wrongly equate the products' 'legal' retail availability with being 'safe,'" said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in the press release announcing the ban. "Parents and community leaders look to us to help them protect their kids, and we have not let them down. Today's action, while temporary, will reduce the number of young people being seen in hospital emergency rooms after ingesting these synthetic chemicals to get high."

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Mechanic Rip Offs: Top 5 Mechanic Scams

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If you've ever taken a car in for maintenance, chances are your mechanic has returned to you with a list that many of us believe should be emblazoned with the words "Mechanic Rip Offs." Dealerships, maintenance chains, and even your local shop do this for a few reasons--not all of which amount to mechanic scams.

That outrageous list of your car's failings primarily serves as a buffer against liability. The last thing any mechanic wants is for a customer to cause an accident and then blame them for failing to properly inspect the vehicle.

This doesn't mean that mechanics aren't trying to make money. More often than not, mechanics and service writers work on commission, which means they might try to sell unnecessary services and parts. The next time you get handed a list of potential mechanic rip offs, pay close attention so you don't fall prey to these top 5 mechanic scams.

1. Overcharging. Particularly true for women and the elderly, one of the most common mechanic scams involves inflated prices. Ask for a written estimate and shop around--a good mechanic will never begrudge you a second opinion.

2. Replacing Air and/or Cabin Filters. Every single time this blogger heads in for an oil change, someone recommends that she change an air or cabin filter. Ask to see the filter, because chances are you can see through it, which means it's fine. Filters are also fairly easy (and cheap!) to replace yourself--a few screws and you're done.

3. Replacing Brake Pads. There's no question that brakes need to be fully functional, but that doesn't mean they need to be replaced five times a year. When your brake pads are at 1/4 inch thickness or below, it's generally time for a change. A good mechanic will give you this measurement.

4. Premature Services. A mechanic may tell you that you need to flush your cooling system or engine, but as Ask Men points out, unless the manufacturer recommends this service, it's a waste of money. To ward off these scams, double check your owner's manual for recommended services.

5. Unnecessary Replacement Parts. Mechanic scams often push for replacement parts. Ask Men points to shocks and spark plugs as big offenders, but you should also be weary of suggested belt replacements. Ask to see the offending part, and make your mechanic explain--in detail--why it needs to be replaced.

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Ban Teens from Tanning Beds, Pediatricians Urge

If you watch MTV's "Jersey Shore" you know that laying in a tanning bed is a daily ritual for the guys. But did you know that tanning that way could be hazardous to your health?

Jersey Shore glamorizes tanning beds. Every day, the guys do their GTLs (Gym Tanning and Laundry) "to stay fresh and mint" as Mike, "The Situation" puts it. But we're finding out that being fresh and mint can lead to a deadly form of skin cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics is now asking teenagers be banned from tanning salons to reduce their risk of cancer reports the Associated Press.

Although indoor tanning is popular among teenage girls as well as guys, about 8,700 people died of melanoma last year and about 68,130 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed.

Melanoma is the most dangerous kind of skin cancer and the leading cause of death among skin cancer patients according to PubMed Health.

In a new policy statement, 60,000 pediatricians want tanning salons to close their doors to minors to protect them from skin cancer as stated by Thomson Reuters.

"There are more tanning facilities in the U.S. than there are Starbucks or McDonald's," said Dr. Sophie J. Balk, who helped write the new statement for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "More than a million visits are made every day." Dr. Balk said the American Academy of Pediatrics is lseeking legislation to prohibit kids from going to tanning salons.

The Indoor Tanning Association disagrees. "We're talking about getting a sun tan," said John Overstreet, the association's spokesman. "This is a decision best left for parents, not the government. Let parents make the decision."

More than 30 states currently regulate indoor tanning by minors. New York and Illinois are considering bills to ban anyone under 18 from tanning salons.

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