Support LifeSmarts on #GivingTuesday, Dec. 1 – National Consumers League

hertzberg-1.jpgThis post originally appeared on LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. Written by Lisa Hertzberg, LifeSmarts Program Director.

I could not be more proud of NCL’s LifeSmarts program and the difference it makes for high school students. We educate the next generation of students about their worker and consumer rights, helping them learn about important real-world topics such as saving for their futures, nutrition, digital security and privacy, and much more. LifeSmarts is so successful because it provides teens with the skills and knowledge they need to evaluate risks and opportunities in order to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. It pushes students to use critical thinking skills and prepares them to apply these skills to the real world.But LifeSmarts teachers other lessons, too: It provides students with confidence, pride, leadership skills, and teamwork. It enables students to become a voice for their families and their communities – helping others avoid fraud, make better deals, and exercise their rights with conviction. We also hear from educators that LifeSmarts motivates students to improve their grades. For some, it’s even the anchor they need to stay in school.

Here is one moving story a LifeSmarts coach shared with me about the difference she had seen LifeSmarts make for one of her students, Joey.

Joey was a junior when he took one of my classes. He was a middle child — with an older sister, who was in the top ten in her class, and a younger brother, who made top grades as well. Joey, on the other hand, struggled to maintain passing grades. When we took the test to qualify for the LifeSmarts state competition, he was not in the top five or even the top 15. But I needed another boy on the team, and since Joey had been helping the other students practice, I decided to give him a chance and put him on the team.

At the state competition, the team won the first round and got a fever to win. They kept winning until the semi-final round, when they lost by five points on the final buzzer question.

Their competition was over for the year, but the three junior members of the team came to me when we got home. They wanted to keep the team together and try to win the state LifeSmarts title their senior year.

The next year, when they took their quizzes to qualify online, Joey and Lucy had a tie score. This was the third year Lucy had been on a LifeSmarts team and she had always had the top score. Joey, on the other hand, had more than doubled his score from the year before.

As a junior, he had one area of expertise: automobiles. As a senior, it was obvious that he had spent a lot of time studying. He answered questions in all areas and was fast and confident on the buzzer. I am proud to say that the team finished first at state and traveled to nationals to represent Texas at the National LifeSmarts Championship!

Joey said that this was the first time he had achieved anything academically that his brother and sister had not done first and better. His counselor commented about how far his class rank went up his senior year. Other teachers told me his grades dramatically improved his senior year. I cannot guarantee that it was all due to LifeSmarts, but I know that it was a big factor.

You can help us reach more students like Joey. We are asking for contributions in support of LifeSmarts this #GivingTuesday. This global initiative takes place December 1, 2015, and is a day devoted to giving back to nonprofit organizations via social media. You may donate anytime, and don’t have to wait for December 1!

We are excited to announce that we have received a pledge from BuckleySandler, LLP, and Jonice Gray Tucker, a member of the LifeSmarts Advisory Board, to match individual donations made on #GivingTuesday! Their generosity will help double the contributions we get—so please keep that in mind and give whatever you can this year!

Turkey day safety tips – National Consumers League

Untitled-1.jpgThe holidays are fast approaching and whatever your family’s traditions, they are sure in involve large quantities of food. With all that food comes food safety risks. Here are a few tips to make sure your family has a safe holiday season. From NCL to your table, we hope you have a great holiday season!


Turkey Tips

Defrost: Don’t leave your bird out overnight! Plan to defrost in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of bird.  If you don’t have time for that, defrost your bird in a cold water bath changing the water every 30 minutes. This method should take about 30 minutes per pound to defrost. 

Preparation: Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t wash the bird before cooking it. Doing so only spreads germs to other foods, utensils and surfaces. If you plan on stuffing the turkey, don’t do so until right before cooking as harmful bacteria can being to grow in stuffing left to sit inside the turkey for long periods.  

Cooking: Turkeys, especially large ones, can take a long time to cook so make sure you allow plenty of time for your bird to be completely cooked. The internal temperature should be 165⁰F. Check the temperature of the bird at multiple locations; you want to make sure the coldest part has reached the appropriate temperature. If you have stuffed your bird, check it to make sure the stuffing has reached 165⁰F as well. Even if your turkey comes with a pop up thermometer, double check the temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s done.

Bacteria Free Buffets

The first step to serving safe food throughout the holidays, or any time, is to ensure you thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling food. Always use clean plates, not those that previously held raw meat or poultry as they can cross contaminate the food you are serving with bacteria. The same is true for cutting boards and other surfaces prepared foods touch, like counters. 

Ensure that all food is cooked thoroughly reaching safe minimum internal temperatures.  All poultry needs to be cooked to at least 165⁰F.   Beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be cooked to 145⁰F if they are intact and 160⁰F if they are ground.  Storing foods in shallow containers allows them to cool or freeze quickly and evenly.  When reheating hot foods for a buffet keep them in the oven with the temperature set around 200-250⁰F until they are ready to be served. 

If possible when food is put out for the buffet, keep hot foods at 140⁰F or warmer and cool foods at 40⁰F or cooler.  For hot foods, this can be done with slow cookers, warming trays and chafing dishes.  Cold foods can be nested in dishes over ice. 


Put all leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours.  For most efficient cooling, store large amounts of leftovers in several smaller containers.  Leftovers should be stored at 40⁰F or 4.4⁰C or frozen at 0⁰F or -17.7⁰C.  Make sure containers are sealed and keep refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen if you plan on keeping them longer.  Reheat hot foods to 165⁰F.

Stay Active

As we all know, the holidays can be a difficult time to maintain a healthy diet.  Studies have shown that while holiday weight gain isn’t as dramatic as we think, it can contribute to weight gain over a lifetime.  Most people gain about one pound over the holiday season which is a rather manageable amount.  That doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself some of the best food you’ll have all year, instead make sure you stay active and eat everything in moderation.  It might be cold but there are plenty of fun winter activities such as ice skating, skiing, sledding or even taking a brisk walk that can help you stay active throughout the holidays. 

More Questions?

For Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season you can download The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) free app called “Ask Karen” that has answers in both English and Spanish for any food safety question you might have.  As always, the USDA will have its bilingual Meat and Poultry Hotline available Monday through Friday, 10a.m. to 4 p.m.  You can call in toll free at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

From everyone here at NCL, we hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Consumers International’s World Congress 2015: Unlocking Consumer Power – National Consumers League

sg.jpgEvery four years, Consumers International organizes a World Congress event, which convenes 240 consumer groups to meet in an appointed country where it has organizational members. I am fortunate enough to be attending this year’s World Congress in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.This morning, as the Congress kicked off, we were honored to hear inspiring opening remarks from Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff. Under her administration, Brazil has created a Secretariat for the Defense of Consumers, raising consumer issues to a high level. I was told in my travels in Rio de Janiero that businesses are worried about running afoul of consumers lest they get reported to the federal consumer agency. Now that’s a good thing!

The Brazilian government has also created a website for resolving conflicts between consumers and companies. Apparently, this site operates like a mediation process, and according to the presentations given today, 80 percent of the complaints are solved in 7 days.

President Rousseff also informed us that 40 million citizens were lifted into the middle class from below within last generation. She made the interesting connection between raising living standards and ensuring that the expanded middle class has access to consumer protections when they buy goods and services. She noted that consumer protection is a state policy and stressed her interest in telecommunications and financial services in particular. Additionally, President Rousseff said she is committed to protecting the most vulnerable consumers and consumer rights to privacy, two values that we as the National Consumers League also hold.

It’s been a day of interesting speakers from Africa, South and Central America, Eastern and Western Europe, the Caribbean, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand recommending action plans for consumers. Above all, I found President Rousseff’s remarks a great endorsement of putting consumer protections front and center as the people of this country enjoy greater wealth and prosperity.

NCL statement on FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule amendment – National Consumers League

November 19, 2015

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, applauds the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its action to increase protections for consumers from telemarketing fraud. Via an amendment to its Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), the FTC today attacked a critical choke point that scammers have long used to defraud consumers: payment technology. By prohibiting the use of “remotely created checks,” “remotely created payment orders,” “cash to cash money transfers,” and “cash reload mechanisms,” the Commission’s action addresses key ways that con artists extract money from their victims.

The following statement is attributable to the National Consumers League’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“Wire transfer, cash reload cards, and remotely created checks have long been the top ways, according to fraud victim complaint data collected by NCL’s, that scammers obtain their ill gotten gains. Today’s action by the FTC will not end the use of these payment mechanisms by scam artists, but it adds another tool to the FTC’s legal toolbox that the agency should use to go after fraudulent telemarketers. The FTC’s amendment to the TSR is a victory for consumers and a blow against scam artists in the fight against fraud.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our
mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the
United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Child Labor Coalition expresses concern about child and adult workers killed in recent factory collapse in Pakistan – National Consumers League

November 6, 2015

Contact: Child Labor Coalition Coordinator Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,

Washington, DC—The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) laments the tragic deaths that occurred Wednesday in the collapse of a plastic-bag factory in Lahore, Pakistan. At least 23 workers died in the factory, including an unknown number of child workers. Rescuers have pulled more than 100 survivors from the rubble, but dozens of other workers still trapped are thought to remain.

Although the details are still not yet fully known, a young boy working in the factory who survived the incident told reporters that dozens of children were among the 150 workers trapped in the collapsed building. Several reports mentioned children as young as 12 working in the factory.

South Asia has been the scene of a number of factory tragedies in recent years. In 2013, more than 1,100 workers died in the Rana factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2012, more than 100 workers died in the Tazreen fire just outside of Dhaka. That same year, 289 people were killed in a fire in Karachi, Pakistan, and on the same day, a shoe factory fire in Lahore killed 25 workers.

“This latest Lahore collapse highlights the vulnerability of factory workers,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the CLC and executive director of the National Consumers League. “Factories must be inspected regularly, and officials should be on the constant lookout for children working in these unsafe environments. Young children should not be dying in factory collapses; they should not be working in factories at all. Western consumers bear some responsibility for creating the awful conditions that lead to these tragedies because of the constant demand for the cheapest-possible products produced at great speed.” 

“The conditions that lead to these kinds of tragedies are a violation of human rights, they are avoidable, and they must stop,” said Dr. Lorretta Johnson, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, a co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition.  “We know that change is possible, and we call upon the government of Pakistan to press its efforts to ensure a culture of rights, not only through inspection and monitoring of factories, but also by the critical elimination of exploitative child labor.”

“In Pakistan, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, only 72 percent of children between 5 and 14 attend school,” said Reid Maki, CLC coordinator. “Two and a half million children between 10 and 14 are estimated to work. Tragic deaths of children like those in the factory collapse in Lahore will continue without a concerted effort to remove children from exploitative work and get more children into school.”


About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition, which has 35 member organizations, represents consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. The CLC’s website and membership list can be found at