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Rita Robison
Consumer and personal finance journalist offering money-saving tips
Interests: Plays, traveling., movies, reading, writing, photography, walking, research, getting together with friends
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Times are changing for meat inspection in America. Traditional methods of checking meat, passed into law 1906 after Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” exposed deplorable conditions in Chicago meat packing plants, look expensive now. The Reagan administration is seeking ways to cut the $1 million a day cost to taxpayers. “We are capping costs by putting new procedures into effect,” said Dr. Donald Houston, director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). But Houston said that consumers can still rely on the USDA’s purple stamp of approval to indicate that meat is clean and wholesome. Continue reading
Posted 13 minutes ago at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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At Washington Beef’s processing plant in Union Gap, Washington, USDA inspection procedures changed in April 1983. Three employees now check the plant for cleanliness. The employees, part of a new USDA program, called “total quality control,” carry out some of the inspection work USDA inspector Dan Spencer used to do at the plant. To cut inspection costs, the USDA has turned over some of the meat inspection duties to the meat companies themselves. But Spencer said he monitors the quality control workers. When the plant begins operating, meat company employees, who are assigned “quality control” duties, are responsible for seeing that sanitary procedures are followed. Continue reading
Posted 11 hours ago at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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The United States Department of Agriculture Wednesday issued a final rule to overhaul the pig slaughter inspection. The following is a statement of Consumer Federation of America’s Director of Food Policy, Thomas Gremillion: “This final rule puts industry profits ahead of public health. Higher line speeds, fewer inspectors, and no microbiological pathogen performance standards are a recipe for a food safety disaster. USDA’s principle evidence that the rule will not increase foodborne illness is a risk assessment that has been thoroughly discredited. Contaminated pork sickens hundreds of thousands of people each year in the United States, and causes over 10% of illnesses from Salmonella. The stakes are simply too high to rush forward with a rule like this that introduces sweeping changes to the inspection system without reliable measures in place to assess their impact. When USDA proposed this rule, CFA opposed it because the agency did not show that it would improve food safety. The rule would expand a pilot program that USDA has carried out for over a decade. The evidence from the pilot does not indicate that it helped to significantly reduce fecal contamination, Salmonella levels, or otherwise improve food safety." Continue reading
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB announced Wednesday that it will continue to maintain its consumer complaint database while making “enhancements” to the information available to users. These enhancements include providing financial information and details into the complaint process to better address questions and inform consumers before they issue a complaint and adding materials to help consumers who seek answers to specific questions from financial companies. “This announcement is a victory for both consumers and the marketplace,” said Ed Mierzwinski, senior director, Federal Consumer Programs for U.S. PIRG. “Over the years, U.S. PIRG, in comments and public statements, has championed the need to maintain a public CFPB consumer complaint database because it’s common sense that markets work better for consumers and companies when both sides have full information.” Mierzwinski said the series of U.S. PIRG reports using the database have clearly shown that the it serves as a powerful tool to help consumers make choices and also gives watchdog groups, academics, and the private sector a way to analyze and highlight problems. Continue reading
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Baby boomers are writing what keeps them steady – not only in this crazy world – but also during this, at times, challenging stage of life. Articles include thoughts on meditation, retirement, law and order, and relaxation. Continue reading
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STIHL is recalling bout 73,000 polycut mowing heads. The bolts connecting the plastic blades and holding the mowing head together can come loose and the mowing head can come apart, posing a risk of injury to the user or bystanders. STIHL Inc. has received 28 reports of loose bolts or mowing heads coming apart, including two reports of injuries. Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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On Thursday, the Trump administration finalized its plan to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule or WOTUS – an Obama-era rule that prohibits the dumping of industrial and agricultural pollution into sensitive waterways that provide tap water for more than 117 million Americans. The repeal of the rule will remove protections for many small streams and wetlands, which were put in place in 2015. The rule determines which streams, rivers, and lakes are protected from pollution by the federal Clean Water Act and extends protection for millions of acres of wetlands that filter drinking water. Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
When a natural disaster occurs, scammers are right there, adapting their fraudulent techniques to the latest emergency. If you suffered damage from Hurricane Dorian, or if you’re looking for ways to help those in need, you can get information at ftc.gov/weatheremergencies. It offers ways to spot the scams that often follow disasters. After a storm like Hurricane Dorian, scammers often target people who need to get their homes cleaned up or repaired, or find a new place to rent, said by Colleen Tressler, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission. Scammers may pose as a government official, asking for financial information or money to apply for aid that you can request on your own for free. They often demand that you pay by gift card, prepaid card, or by wiring money. That’s always a scam, Tressler said. Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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Under the Trump administration, the federal agency that’s supposed to protect consumers from Wall Street and financial predators has thought of yet another way to strip consumers of their protections. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB announced Tuesday that, working with seven state regulators, it launched the American Consumer Financial Innovation Network or ACFIN, a network that it said would "enhance coordination among federal and state regulators to facilitate financial innovation." The CFPB invited all state regulators to join ACFIN, and the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah took the offer. Consumer advocates criticized the CFPB action because it gives banks, fintech companies, and other corporations no-action letters and approvals that will protect companies from enforcement and determine potentially new risky financial products and services to be in compliance with the law. Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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In response to Consumer Reports’ recent article “Meat Gets A Makeover” focusing on plant-based alternatives to traditional beef burgers, Rachel Konrad – Impossible Foods’ PR chief – published an inflammatory and misleading attack on the motivations and methods behind our coverage of the safety of a key ingredient in the Impossible Burger. Oddly enough, she seems out for blood about an article that very fairly compares several plant-based alternatives based on taste, safety, and environmental impact. At Consumer Reports, our first and only responsibility as a mission-driven nonprofit is to serve consumers. We provide accurate and factual product information that people can trust, and look out for consumer health and safety. Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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The leaves are already beginning to change here in the Seattle area, so change and fall are in the air. Fall is definitely just around the corner. Laurie Stone from Musings, Rants & Scribbles is happy. Yes, spring is lovely... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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Whirlpool is recalling about 26,300 Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and JennAir brand glass cooktops with touch controls in the United States, 2,800 in Canada, and 128 in Mexico. The recalled cooktop surface units can turn on by themselves, posing burn and fire hazards. Whirlpool Corp. has received 133 reports of incidents involving the cooktop surface units turning on by themselves. This resulted in 14 reports, including 13 in the U.S. and one in Canada, of heat damage to nearby items and four reports of items catching on fire, including one report of property damage. Two minor burn injuries have been reported. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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Summer is an amazing thing. I love it every year when it so nicely appears here in the Seattle area. However, shorter days and cooler nights remind us that it’s time to prepare for a new season’s activities and learn... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
Google and its subsidiary YouTube agreed to pay a record $170 million Wednesday to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General’s Office that YouTube illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent. The settlement requires Google and YouTube to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule. The $136 million penalty is the largest amount the FTC has gotten in a COPPA case since the law was enacted in 1998. In a lawsuit filed against the companies, the agencies allege that YouTube violated the COPPA Rule by collecting personal information – identifiers that track users across the Internet – from viewers of child-directed channels, without notifying parents and getting their consent. YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers – cookies – to deliver targeted ads to viewers, according to the lawsuit. Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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When a natural disaster occurs, scammers appear everywhere quickly to try to get your money. “The destruction that Hurricane Dorian wreaked across the Bahamas is nothing short of a true humanitarian crisis – entire communities underwater, homes completely destroyed, and lives tragically lost,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “We anxiously wait for Dorian to pass through the southeast United States and hope for minimal impact and that communities remain safe.”James urged people who want to support those who have been impacted to be prudent when assessing what organizations to donate to. Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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The terms “Uncured” and “No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” shouldn’t be allowed to be used on labels for meat processed with nitrates or nitrites from natural ingredients, such as celery powder, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Consumer Reports told the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday. The groups urged the agency to revise its rule because the labels are misleading and may give consumers the false impression that these products are healthier.Tests of deli meats by Consumer Reports show the labels are misleading. Consumer Reports tested 31 packaged deli meats – name brands and store brands – including chicken, ham, roast beef, salami, and turkey. It’s tests showed that nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to cancer, are found in processed meats labeled “Uncured” or “No Nitrates or Nitrites Added” at similar levels to those prepared with synthetic curing agents such as sodium nitrite. “The ‘Uncured’ and ‘No Nitrate or Nitrite Added’ labels could make people think these meats are healthier, but our tests show they are not,” said Charlotte Vallaeys, senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports. “Deli meats carrying these labels pose the same health risks as traditionally cured meats because the nitrate and nitrite levels are essentially the same.” Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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It’s estimated that 25 percent of Americans plan to get out of town for the Labor Day weekend, and that 86 percent of them plan to travel by car. If you’re one of these, be sure to drive carefully. Another estimate is that about 400 people will die in traffic accidents during the holiday weekend, and 45,300 will sustain serious injuries. I wish I’d be at a cookout like the 40.6 percent of Americans who plan to barbecue over Labor Day.A lot of people will probably be working on the holiday weekend because the largest category in the workforce is retail with 4,450,000 salespeople and second is food preparation and service workers with 3,680,000. Third is cashiers with 3,640,000 workers. Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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Contigo is recalling about 5.7 million kids cleanable water bottles in the United States, 157,000 in Canada, and 28,000 in Mexico. The water bottle’s clear silicone spout can detach, posing a choking hazard to children. Contigo has received 149 reports of the spout detaching including 18 spouts found in children’s mouths. Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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Baby boomers are living much longer than their great-grandparents or even their grandparents. The average 65-year-old American today can expect to survive well past 80. So the question is: are boomers using the additional time constructively? That’s one of the topics our boomer blogging group is writing about this week. Other topics include house sharing, transitions, rightsized travel, lost then found, repeated arguments couples have, plastic consumption reduction, and air condition settings. Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
Facts and figures for Labor Day 2019 include 1894 was the year Congress officially made the first Monday in September a federal holiday; 35 percent of the work force belonged to unions in the 1950s compared to 10.5 percent in 2018; 25 percent of Americans plan to travel for the Labor Day weekend; the most popular Labor Day travel destinations are New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Chicago; the estimated number of traffic fatalities over the Labor Day weekend is estimated to be 398 and serious injuries are estimated to be 45,300; 40.6 percent of Americans plan to have a barbeque over the Labor Day weekend; 163.4 million Americans age 16-plus are in the labor force; the national unemployment rate as of July 2019 was 3.7 percent; the median household income is $57,650; 90 percent of full-time workers have health insurance; 4,450,000 work in retail, the largest sector of the workforce; the average American worker earns 10 vacation days a year; 55 percent of Americans left vacation days unused in 2018; 5,147 fatal work injuries occurred in 2017, compared to 23,000 in 1913; and 594,000-plus workers lives have been saved since the Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSHA was passed in 1970. Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
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With summer coming to an end and the back-to-school shopping keeping people busy, it’s helpful to have information about Labor Day sales so you can get the best deals possible. During the Labor Day sales, you'll find lots of bargains. Look for reduced prices on clothing, appliances, computers, phones, electronics, and furniture. WalletHub, a personal-finance website, has analyzed the Labor Day sales this year and offers information on the top deals. Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2019 at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide