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Category: Recalls

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Consumer Confidential: Risky massage, Motrin recall, burger wars

Here's your thunder-island Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- We all want a massage to die for ... but not literally. The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use the ShoulderFlex Massager because at least one person is reported to have died from strangulation while using the device. The massager is sold in retail stores, catalogs and online. It's intended to provide a deep tissue massage to the neck, shoulders and back area while lying down. But the FDA warns that hair, clothing or jewelry can become entangled in the device and cause serious injury or even death from strangulation. There have been reports of one death and one near-death due to strangulation. (

-- Another heads up: Johnson & Johnson has issued another recall of Motrin pain relievers -- the sixth in two years. This time, it's because Motrin IB pills may not dissolve and begin working as fast as they're supposed to as they approach their three-year expiration date. That could delay relief of pain. The recall covers Motrin IB coated caplets and coated tablets, in packages with either 24 pills or 30 pills. A company spokeswoman says J&J is recalling packages only from retailers, not consumers, because there's no safety concern. If you have questions, call J&J at (888) 222-6036. (Associated Press)

--Who rules Burger Land? Well, McDonald's is still top dog, but the battle for second place is heating up. Wendy’s is poised to pass Burger King in market share sometime next year, according to market analysts. It would be the first time that Wendy’s, which was founded in 1969, has reached the No. 2 spot. Burger King, which once held about 20% of the $65 billion hamburger market, fell to 13.3% last year and could soon dip below 10%. Wendy’s, meanwhile, has focused on taste, offering thicker burgers with buttered buns while reminding customers of its glory days with a remake of its 1984 "Where’s the beef?" commercials. (Financial Times)

-- David Lazarus

Photo: This is a good massage. But the FDA says you could get strangled if you use a ShoulderFlex massager. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Consumer Confidential: Saab's woes, Nissan recalls, bearish penalty

Saab Automobile has filed for bankruptcy
Here's your ain't-no-mountain-high-enough Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Sayonara, Saab? Saab Automobile has filed for bankruptcy, bringing the Swedish carmaker to the brink of shutting for good after failing to find investors to rescue the 74-year-old company. Saab, which General Motors sold to Swedish Automobile in February 2010, won protection from creditors in September and has been seeking funding since then. Guy Lofalk, Saab's court-appointed administrator, applied on Dec. 7 to end the reorganization, saying the carmaker was out of money and had no realistic hope of gaining financing soon. Swedish Automobile's stock plunged as much as 76% to 5 cents. How do you say "fare thee well" in Swedish? (Los Angeles Times)

--Speaking of vehicles, heads up: Nissan is recalling some 2010 and 2011 models of its Sentra small car for a battery-related problem -- the second time in a month it has recalled the cars for a battery issue. And it's recalling its Juke small car because a bracket could break and cause the engine to stall. The latest recall involves Sentras built from May 11 through May 22, 2010, and from July 8 through Oct. 25, 2010. A zinc coating on a bolt that holds the battery cable is too thick and can reduce voltage, resulting in hard starting and damage to the engine control module. As a result, the engine could stall and be hard or impossible to restart. (USA Today)

--The bear necessities: The people who make the Build-A-Bear toy bears have agreed to pay a $600,000 penalty for failing to report a safety defect that resulted in injuries to consumers. The penalty results from the company's alleged failure to immediately report problems involving a toy bear beach chair. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said sharp edges of the chair's folding frame could pinch, lacerate and even amputate a child's fingertip. The chairs were recalled in May 2009, by which time there were at least 10 reports of injuries, which the St. Louis-based company apparently knew about but didn't report. In agreeing to the settlement, Build-A-Bear said it denies allegations about the existence of a defect or hazard, or that it violated the law. (

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Saab may be going bye-bye after filing for bankruptcy. Credit: Eric J. Shelton / Associated Press

Consumer Confidential: Amazon fallout, hybrids galore, Ford recall

Here's your Brandy-you're-a-fine-girl Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--It's not just brick-and-mortar retailers who are unhappy about luring away shoppers with its Price Check app. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) called on the Internet heavyweight to drop its promotion because it gives consumers an incentive to gather price data from small retailers and leave stores without spending money. Amazon is offering a 5% discount on Saturday to entice users to try a new mobile app that compares its prices with real-world retailers. "Amazon’s promotion -- paying consumers to visit small businesses and leave empty-handed -- is an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities," Snowe says. "Incentivizing consumers to spy on local shops is a bridge too far." (Bloomberg)

--There's likely a hybrid in your future. One of every two cars will be either a hybrid or some other alternative-fuel vehicle by 2040, oil giant Exxon Mobil predicts. Hybrids, which rely on both gas and electricity for power, currently account for less than 1% of all vehicles on the world's roads. They should move into the mainstream as governments boost fuel-efficiency requirements, Exxon says. Power for those hybrids, along with other vehicles and a growing number of households around the world, will increasingly come from natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy sources like wind, Exxon believes. But the largest publicly traded oil company also makes clear that oil will remain king of the energy world for many, many years. (Associated Press)

--Speaking of wheels, heads up: Ford is recalling more than 128,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans from the 2010 and 2011 model years because the wheels can fall off the cars. The recall affects only cars with 17-inch steel wheels built from April 1, 2009, through April 30, 2009, and from Dec. 1, 2009, through Nov. 13, 2010. Federal regulators say that bolts holding the wheels on can fracture, causing a vibration. If the vibration is ignored, the wheels can separate from the car. Ford says it's not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by the problem. (Associated Press)

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Sen. Olympia Snowe thinks Amazon should back off its price-check promotion. Credit:  Harry Hamburg / Associated Press


Ocean Spray recalls more dried cranberries after finding metal fragments

Cranberries with a garnish of metal pieces? Ocean Spray is expanding its November recall after discovering more packets of the dried fruit contaminated with tiny bits of metal.

The Original Flavor Craisins were sold in California and elsewhere around the western U.S., the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

There are no reports of illness and officials say that injuries from the “very small hair-like metal fragments … are unlikely,” but Ocean Spray said its recall comes from “an abundance of caution.”

The company said the metal fibers slipped in when a piece of production equipment malfunctioned at its Markham, Wash., dried cranberry manufacturing facility.

"We’ve identified the source of the problem and corrective maintenance has been performed on the equipment and additional preventative maintenance and inspections have been instituted throughout our network," said spokesman John Isaf.

Affected consumers should throw out the 5-ounce, 10-ounce and 48-ounce packages but keep the UPC and Best By Date labels to get a free replacement coupon, the FDA said. Bulk 10-pound packages were also affected.


Cantaloupe recalled amid Listeria outbreak

Fresno dairy raw milk products recalled by state

L.A. firm recalls 377,775 pounds of ground beef in E. coli scare

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Consumer Confidential: Slower mail, cyber sales, bad brakes

Here's your more-than-a-woman Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Here's the latest bid by the U.S. Postal Service to cut its losses: slower mail. The Postal Service, which is trying to cut $20 billion in operating costs by 2015, is asking the Postal Regulatory Commission to let it relax delivery standards for first-class mail, which includes letters and bills. Slowing mail delivery would reduce the number of mail-processing plants the Postal Service needs. The service said in September that it was considering loosening delivery standards and closing 252, or more than half, of its mail-processing plants. The agency said last month it expects a $14.1-billion loss in 2012 as mail volume continues to drop. (Bloomberg)

--Clearly, we like shopping online. Purchases reached nearly $6 billion for the "Cyber Week" that runs from the Sunday before Cyber Monday through Dec. 2, according to the latest data from ComScore. The big drivers of the bountiful Cyber Week were three of the four heaviest online spending days in history, each of which posted sales in excess of $1 billion: Cyber Monday, the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.25 billion; Tuesday, Nov. 29, at $1.12 billion; and Wednesday, Nov. 30, at $1.03 billion. Online spending for the first 32 days of the November-December 2011 holiday season has totaled $18.7 billion, a 15% increase compared with the corresponding days last year. (Washington Business Journal)

--Heads up: Subaru is recalling three of its car models and Honda is recalling some motorcycles, all because the brakes can malfunction. The Honda recall covers 126,000 GL-1800 motorcycles from the 2001 to 2012 model years. A problem with a secondary brake master cylinder can cause the rear brake to drag, possibly causing a crash or fire. The Subaru recall involves nearly 32,000 Legacy, Outback and Impreza models from the 2012 model year. A defective brake master cylinder could cause the brake pedal to travel farther than expected. Federal safety regulators say this could cause a driver to misjudge the amount of pressure needed to stop quickly. (Associated Press)

-- David Lazarus

Photo:: The U.S. Postal Service is trying to cut $20 billion in operating costs by 2015. Credit: Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images


Honda recalling cars to fix airbags that can kill drivers

Honda is recalling this 2001 Accord and other models because exploding airbags can injure drivers.
Honda Motor Co. plans to recall 273,000 Honda and Acura vehicles because of an airbag problem that can kill drivers.

It will also inspect an additional 603,000 vehicles to see if the same defective parts that cause the problem were sold to repair autos that have been in accidents. Honda said it doesn’t know how many of those vehicles might have been repaired with the defective parts.

In the recalled vehicles, the driver’s side airbag can deploy with too much force in an accident, causing a metal inflator casing -- the part that holds and channels explosive propellant -- to rupture.

“The propellant was packed improperly and that allows the propellant to burn off too quickly and it explodes and pieces of the casing are causing the injuries,” said Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman.

The airbag inflator was manufactured by parts supplier Takata in Japan.

Honda has had four previous recalls dealing the same issue, which with this latest expansion includes more than 2.5 million vehicles in the U.S.  The problem does not affect any vehicles newer than the 2003 model year.

Altogether, there have been 18 injuries and two deaths caused by the faulty airbags.

Honda expanded the recall after learning of a driver who was injured in a vehicle not included in its previous actions. It also is concerned that people are still driving unrepaired vehicles listed in previous recalls.

“We really need to get all these cars repaired and there are a lot of customers out there who have not brought their cars in after we have sent them mailers,” Martin said. “This is a very serious thing; people need to get their cars fixed.  This is not something to wait on.”

The latest recall now includes certain 2001 and 2002 Accord, 2001 to 2003 Civic, 2001 to 2003 Odyssey, 2002 and 2003 CR-V, 2003 Pilot, 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 Acura 3.2 CL vehicles.

Honda will begin sending recall notices to owners of these vehicles later this month.

It also said the Honda owners can go to or call (800) 999-1009 and select option 4; Acura owners can go to or call (800) 382-2238 and select option 4 to get more information.


GM wants to avoid Toyota pitfalls

BMW finally tackles the cupholder issue

Ford moves to rebuild struggling Lincoln brand

-- Jerry Hirsch

Photo: 2001 Honda Accord EX. Credit: Honda Motor Co.

Toy report: Kids exposed to lead, carcinogens, choking hazards

Holiday toys: Bringers of joy or dangerous hazards? A new report says that some dolls, games and other children’s products may be toxic or unsafe for kids.

In its 26th annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that several toys contained high levels of lead or chemical phthalates, present choking or strangulation hazards or could lead to hearing damage.

More than 250,000 children went to emergency rooms in 2010 with injuries related to toys, according to the group.

Two toys contained phthalates -– a chemical that research suggests could hinder development in youth –- at levels 40 and 70 times allowable limits.

Nearly 200,000 toys were recalled this year because they had too much lead content -– including in coatings on stuffed animals, the group said.

The group found one toy car that was louder than the suggested 85-decibel limit, as well as a toy cellphone and a headphone that tested at greater than 65 decibels.

Between 1990 and 2010, more than 400 children died from toy-related injuries –- more than half of them from choking on small parts, balloons or balls, according to the group.


Consumer Confidential: Holiday travel, hybrids, teddy bear recall

Consumer Confidential: Milk lawsuit, sneaker settlement, toy recall

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Rick Bowmer / Associated Press

Consumer Confidential: Saving money on Thanksgiving; toy safety


Here's your Martha-my-dear Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Looking for ways to save on your Thanksgiving feast? You're not alone. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average holiday meal for 10 is expected to total $49.20, up $5.73 from last year. Here are some ideas for keeping costs down: 1) Buy a frozen turkey. They're just as tasty as the unfrozen type. Just make sure you leave enough time to defrost that puppy. 2) Have your guests bring a dish or two. That's how the pilgrims did it, after all. 3) Try co-hosting a meal with friends or another family member. The more the merrier, right? 4) When possible, turn to canned goods or other frozen options. Your guests won't even notice. (MoneyWatch)

--Toys are getting safer -- but they're also getting more dangerous. That's the takeaway from a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which found that toy recalls have been declining since a tough new product-safety law was enacted in 2008. There were 34 toy recalls in the 2011 fiscal year, ended Sept. 30, down from 172 in 2008. At the same time, though, toy-related deaths of kids younger than 15 increased last year, and injuries remain alarmingly high. Seventeen child fatalities last year were toy-related, up from 12 in 2010. Almost half were from choking on balloons and balls -- products so common they're hard to regulate. The report also shows nearly 252,000 kids younger than 15 were treated in emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries last year. (USA Today)

-- David Lazarus

Photo: You can cut corners on your T-Day meal without cutting quality. Credit: Matthew Mead / Associated Press

Consumer Confidential: The skinny on Black Friday; Keds recall

Here's your feelin'-stronger-every-day Friday roundup of cosnumer news from around the Web:

-- Getting all excited about Black Friday? Maybe you'll want to rethink things. Here are a few reasons why the Black Friday hoopla is overblown: Most "door busters" are second-tier products offered by less-prominent brands. Many of the same deals you'll find in the store can be found online. Layaway may not be available until after Black Friday ends. Return policies are often stricter for discounted goods. And more importantly, you're likely to overspend after lining up in the middle of the night to get a shot at some bargain-basement product. The stores know this, which is why they go through all this fuss in the first place. Just saying. (MoneyWatch)

-- Heinz wants to make a little ketchup go a long way. The world's biggest ketchup maker's second-quarter profit fell as it focused on fast-growing emerging markets. But in struggling developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe, the company is shrinking product sizes and selling lower-priced products such as ketchup for 99 cents and beans for around a dollar to appeal to budget-stretched shoppers. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck, buying only what they can afford rather than bigger bottles or cans of food that might be more cost-effective. Heinz says that to meet consumers' needs, it is selling pouches instead of bottles of some of its condiments, reintroducing bean products to the U.S. and selling a bag of french fries for family dinners at $1.99. (Associated Press)

-- Heads up: Keds is recalling about 45,000 Know It All girls' shoes. Ornamental stars on the heel of the shoe may loosen, posing a laceration hazard. The company has received 27 reports of cuts and scratches resulting from metal stars that loosened from the heel of the shoe. This recall involves Keds girls' rubber-soled shoes. The shoes are black and pink, with white trim and a pink loop on the heel. The Chinese-made shoes were sold in girls' sizes 12 to 5 at various department stores and online retailers. Consumers should take them away from children immediately and contact Collective Brands to receive a gift card for $30 redeemable at Stride Rite stores or (

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Black Friday may be more hassle than it's worth. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times


Consumer Confidential: Holiday travel, hybrids, teddy bear recall

Here's your three-times-a-lady Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- What's the latest word on the living hell that is Thanksgiving travel? Here you go. About 42.5 million people in the United States are expected to hit the road to visit family and friends, the highest number of holiday travelers since the start of the recession. Travel tracker AAA says that 4% more Americans than last year will journey at least 50 miles from home, with about 90% of them driving. Another 8% plan to fly, but AAA notes that higher airfares and less available seats have forced many would-be fliers to drive instead. The remaining travelers plan to take buses, trains or other forms of transport. Also, those driving should expect to pay more at the pump. The average price of a gallon of gas so far this November is $3.42, up nearly 20% from last year’s $2.86. (Associated Press)

-- For drivers, hybrid vehicles can be a good deal safer than conventional cars. For pedestrians, though, they can be more dangerous because they can sneak right up on you. Occupants of hybrid vehicles sustain fewer injuries in crashes than those who are involved in accidents in non-hybrid cars, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. The same study says hybrids cause more pedestrian crashes than their non-hybrid counterparts because their relatively quiet operation can make them stealthy on the road. The study suggests the weight of hybrids contributed to a 25% decrease in bodily injuries for those riding in the vehicles. (Los Angeles Times)

-- Heads up: Build-a-Bear Workshop is recalling more than 21,000 swimwear and inner tube sets sold in the U.S. and Canada. The inner tube accessory can be pulled over a small child's head, posing a strangulation hazard. Build-a-Bear received one report of an incident in which a 3-year-old girl pulled the inner tube over her head and had difficulty removing it. The inner tube is part of the three-piece Fruit Tutu Bikini swimwear set for teddy bears, which includes a two-piece fruit-print bikini. The inner tube is nine inches in diameter and pink with white and yellow flowers printed on it. Build-a-Bear Workshop sold the swimwear sets nationwide from April to August for $12.50. They were made in China. (

-- David Lazarus

Photo: There will be more people traveling for Thanksgiving. Enjoy! Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times


Fresno dairy raw milk products recalled by state


California food safety regulators have placed a recall and quarantine order on raw milk products from a Fresno dairy, Organic Pastures.

All milk products except cheese aged a minimum of 60 days must be pulled from retail stores, and consumers are urged to dispose of any remaining products in their homes, said the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The quarantine order came after state health authorities identified a cluster of five children infected between August and October with the same strain of the bacteria E. coli 0157:H7 in Contra Costa, Kings, Sacramento and San Diego counties. An investigation revealed that the only common factor was the drinking of raw milk from Organic Pastures.

State milk and dairy food inspectors have begun a full check of the Organic Pastures facilities.

Organic Pastures marketing manager Kaleigh Lutz said that the dairy's own testing has been negative for presence of pathogens. The family-owned company is working with Food and Agriculture to resolve the investigation. Organic Pasture's organic beef, raw cheese and organic pastured eggs are not affected by the recall.

Symptoms of E.coli infection include abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody, officials said. Most people recover within a week, but some victims need to be hospitalized.


Disagreement over what's in that glass of raw milk 

Raw milk crackdown went too far, defense attorney says 

Food borne pathogens carry devastating long-term effects

-- Marc Lifsher

Photo: A cow whose milk has not been subject to a California recall is being milked for fans of nonpasteurized milk. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press


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