NCL concerned Congress seeks to approve unreviewed CDB products

Sept. 17, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—On September 4, lawmakers introduced The Hemp and Hemp-derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020 (HR 8179), which directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make hemp and hemp-derived CBD lawful as a dietary ingredient or dietary supplement. The National Consumers League (NCL) has long been concerned about the public health and safety risks posed by unapproved cannabis-derived products. NCL does not support legislation that seeks to bypass FDA’s authority and circumvent the scientific rigor of an FDA review.

Under current law, manufacturers and distributers of CBD products can already petition the FDA to review and approve a new ingredient for use as a dietary supplement (21 U.S.C. 350b). For FDA approval as a dietary supplement or new ingredient, manufacturers and distributors are required to submit scientific data, including any published studies, to provide a basis to conclude that a product is generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Unfortunately, there is a disconcerting lack of research and data about the safety of CBD products already in the market, whereby millions of consumers are using to self-treat serious and life-threatening ailments.

In response to the proliferation of unreviewed and untested CBD products in the market, NCL launched the Consumers for Safe CBD program to provide greater education to consumers about CBD. As demonstrated in a white paper published by NCL, cannabis companies tend to focus their research efforts on inexpensive, low-strength studies that are ultimately used for marketing purposes, not to enhance scientific knowledge or bring new proven therapies to patients. HR 1879 would further incentivize CBD manufacturers to forego the more rigorous and costly clinical trial process for developing an FDA-approved medicine.

NCL is concerned that CBD manufacturers and distributers making claims to treat certain medical issues will seek expedited approval of CBD products as a dietary supplement, instead of as a drug. Lawmakers should encourage the development of cannabis-based medicines that have undergone the rigor of randomized controlled clinical trials to learn more about how cannabis-derived therapies can both help and harm patients. This legislation seeks to fast-track the classification of CBD products as dietary supplements or ingredients without sufficient scientific data on their safety and efficacy, potentially placing consumers further at risk.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL commends two GOP senators who will oppose Beck nomination to lead consumer safety agency

June 22, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers (NCL) League greatly appreciates the principled stance of two GOP senators who have stated publicly that they cannot support Dr. Nancy Beck for the Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). One of those senators, Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), holds a critical seat on the committee of jurisdiction over the CPSC. That committee will vote either to send her nomination to the full Senate or not.

“Dr. Nancy Beck’s record as it relates to PFAS chemicals, as well as her responses to my questions and the questions of other senators at yesterday’s Commerce Committee hearing have led me to conclude that she is not the right person to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which heard from Dr. Beck at her nomination hearing this week.

“I do not believe that Dr. Nancy Beck’s views on chemical safety, including on PFAS substances and asbestos, align with the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s mission,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said in a statement.

Republicans currently hold 53 Senate seats. If two more Republicans announce their opposition, the party would lack a majority to confirm Beck, assuming all Democrats and independents who caucus as Democrats oppose her.

PFAS Concerns

Concerns about Beck’s responses on PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) and asbestos were evident during Tuesday’s Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing. Beck promised senators to champion policies “supported by objective and transparent science.”

Beck’s previous position as a political appointee in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and her work for the American Chemistry Council raised concerns.

The Commerce panel won’t schedule a vote on Beck’s nomination for at least two weeks to allow for members to ask additional questions for the record, a Republican committee aide said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, also will vote against Beck’s nomination; Cantwell asked Beck a number of probing questions, as did Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

Democrats, environmental, and consumer groups have criticized Beck’s nomination to lead the commission, citing her consistent actions to slow or block banning dangerous chemicals and advancing the interests of the chemical industry.

The following letters were sent to the Senate Commerce Committee’s Chairman Roger Wicker and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, opposing the nomination of Nancy Beck to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL hails sweeping Supreme Court decision protecting LGBTQ employees

June 19, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—With a mission of protecting workers and consumers, the National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Supreme Court’s landmark employment protection decision this week finding that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under federal civil rights law. This statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director:

We are applauding this week’s landmark 6-3 Supreme Court decision finding that the law’s prohibition on sex discrimination in employment extends to those who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). We commend and thank Justice Neil Gorsuch and his five fellow justices for concluding that ‘An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.’ NCL was founded to advocate for the rights of workers to receive decent pay, work in safe conditions and be free from discrimination in the workplace. This decision further extends these critical protections to the LGBT community.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex. We are pleased that the court found that “sex” is a distinct characteristic but inseparable from the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The decision is the most significant affirmation of LGBT rights in the United States since the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage and the Court’s first decision addressing transgender civil rights.

Before the decision, LGBT job discrimination was still technically legal in much of the nation. Less than half the states have laws explicitly prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. An estimated 11 million Americans identify as LGBT, according to the Williams Institute.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

Consumer groups: Proposed DOT rules will undermine agency’s ability to protect passengers

May 28, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC—Consumer groups today called the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to modify how it protects passengers from unfair and deceptive acts and practices in the air travel marketplace “fatally flawed” and urged the agency to abandon its rulemaking. In comments filed with the agency, the National Consumers League and Consumer Action questioned why the Department would begin such a far-reaching rulemaking, which it apparently did at the request of the nation’s largest airline lobbying group.

“The proposed rules, formulated at the behest of the airline lobby, would not benefit consumers,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud. “If adopted, they would give airlines even greater incentives to engage in the kinds of anti-passenger practices—like leaving passengers stuck on the tarmac for hours on end—that Congress intended the DOT to prevent.”

The DOT’s proposed rules (“Defining Unfair or Deceptive Practices,” Docket No. DOT-OST-2019-0182), would also require the agency to overcome burdensome hurdles before any new enforcement actions or consumer protection rulemakings are initiated.

DOT’s enforcement activity is at the lowest level in a decade. Last year, the DOT initiated the fewest number of enforcement actions (9) and the second-lowest amount of civil penalties ($2.2 million) since 2010. Compare this to the $1.4 billion in baggage fees that the eleven biggest U.S. airlines collected in the fourth quarter of 2019 alone. The groups’ comments questioned how such metrics could square with the airline industry’s portrayal of the DOT as a consumer protection agency run amok.

“We understand that the airlines are facing severe economic headwinds due to COVID-19,” said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s director of national priorities. “That should be no excuse for the DOT to cave to industry pressure and abandon its critical consumer protection role in the air travel marketplace.”

The organizations’ full comments are available here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering 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 www.nclnet.org.

 

NCL commends House passage of anti-tobacco bill

March 3, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the passage by the House of Representatives of the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 (H.R. 2339), legislation that aims to address youth smoking and e-cigarette crisis. NCL supports the work of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Black Women’s Health Imperative, National Medical Association, National Black Nurses Association, and the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network—among others—all of whom have helped advance this bill.  

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, 5 million youth reported having used e-cigarettes, 1 million of which reported daily use. There has been a 78 percent increase in consumption of e-cigarettes among high school students and a 48 percent growth in consumption among middle school students. The proliferation of e-cigarettes in the marketplace has jeopardized decades of progress made by smoking cessation advocates.

For generations, tobacco companies have disproportionately targeted the African American community with advertisements for tobacco products that appear on average, 10 times more in African American neighborhoods than anywhere else. The most staggering example of this is highly addictive and harder-to-quit menthol cigarettes, which have long been marketed to the African American community. Even more concerning is that seven out of ten African American youth smokers ages 12 to 17 smoke menthol cigarettes. 

H.R. 2339 aims to revise requirements related to the safety, sale, and advertisement of tobacco products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes and similar devices. The bill will address the deceptive marketing practices deployed by e-cigarette companies that lure and entice young people with their packaging. The legislation views e-cigarettes as on par with traditional tobacco products under the law and makes it clear that selling tobacco products to children, in any modality is illegal.

“The National Consumers League applauds Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) for their leadership on this legislation,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We urge the Senate to join in this fight to help end efforts by tobacco and e-cigarette companies to target vulnerable communities nationwide with biased marketing tactics.”

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering 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 www.nclnet.org.

 

New study says Chipotle management presses workers to work sick and skip food safety practices, creating health risks for consumers

February 6, 2020

The Unsavory side of ‘Food with Integrity.’ ” report details management practices that lead to worker abuses and call into question protocols Chipotle put in place after recent food safety crises

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

New York — After dozens of outbreaks of food borne illness incidents over the past four years, Chipotle gave lip service to reforms in their work practices, but the fast-casual restaurant has continued to engage in management practices that lead to abuses of workers that may create food safety risks for consumers, a new study says.

Scores of employees interviewed for the study reported management pressure to work fast without following proper food safety procedures, such as:

  • One worker being pressured to work while sick, even after the worker vomited  part way into his shift;
  • Undercooked chicken being served to a customer because the grill cook out in place had not been properly trained;
  • Workers pressured to work so fast that during lunch and dinner rushes, they often flipped over  chopping boards used to cut raw meat, and reused the boards without washing them;
  • One worker who cooked food had to clean feces off the floor or ceiling of a bathroom multiple times without hazmat suit or adequate protection equipment;
  • Pressure to work without stopping, with no time left to wash their hands for hours on end.

In the report, “The Unsavory Side of ‘Food with Integrity,'” workers told researchers that their managers often knew when supposedly independent audits were coming because other managers or field leaders who have undergone inspection often tip them off. Workers reported that managers relax rules outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when inspections are imminent.

“The findings of this report call into question the effectiveness of measures that Chipotle put in place to solve their food safety crises of a few years ago,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, which co-authored the report. “If Chipotle executive management and the Food Safety Advisory Council are responsible for making sure that this program is implemented effectively to keep the public safe, they have been asleep at the wheel.”

The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization which has been representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since their founding in 1899, undertook the study after SEIU Local 32BJ brought the organization information from field organizers about what were learning about practices that could affect consumer food safety from Chipotle workers they were supporting in their organizing efforts.

Organizers and researchers spoke to hundreds of workers, then undertook formal interviews with 47 workers at 25 stores in New York City. These interviews and statements form the basis of the report, which also included analysis of a variety of corporate filings, press reports, and other publicly available documents.

“We chose to blow the whistle on these practices and abuses because our Chipotle managers did not listen to us,” Jeremy Espinal, a Chipotle worker, said. “It’s a pressure-packed workplace where supervisors intimidate you and retaliate against you.”

“I am speaking out because I want to make Chipotle a better place to work and a better place for customers to eat,” Jahaira Garcia, another Chipotle worker, said. “This job is how I support myself, how I help my father out with expenses at home and how I am able to partly pay for my school fees.”

32BJ President Kyle Bragg thanked the National Consumers League for working with the union and thanked the workers for their courage.

“I believe that these workers are Chipotle’s best assets,” Bragg said. “They can put the integrity back into ‘food with integrity.’ Give them a voice on the job and they will help Chipotle achieve the lofty ideals of its marketing.”

Report findings include:

  • Managerial pay incentives that promote cutting food safety corners:  managers can earn up to an additional 25% of base pay by meeting performance goals that include reducing labor costs, creating a highly pressurized work environment. This bonus program may incentivize managers to meet productivity goals by cutting corners on food safety or by violating worker protection laws.
  • Ineffective store audits: Worker interviews revealed that general managers frequently know when supposedly independent audits are coming because other managers or field leaders who have been inspected often tip them off. Workers reported that managers have relaxed rules following outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when an audit is imminent.
  • Pressure to work sick: New York-based workers reported that managers have pressured crew members to work while sick or retaliated against workers for taking paid sick leave.
  • Minimal training: Despite the substantial skills needed to safely prepare Chipotle’s fresh food menu, many new hires receive minimal training and “learn as they go” from co-workers who may not have received much training themselves.

“As chairman of the New York City Council Public Health Committee, this is deeply troubling to me,” said New York Councilmember Mark Levine. “Risk of contagion should not be aggravated by an aggressive incentive structure that encourages managers to abuse workers and cut food safety corners. The public needs to know more and Chipotle needs to change their policies. That is why I am calling for a public hearing in the Council. I encourage Chipotle workers and consumers to come forward to discuss these issues. I also invite the company to be there to engage in this conversation.” 

Nick Freudenberg, distinguished professor of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, discussed Chipotle’s history of food borne disease outbreaks.

In 2015 and 2016, Chipotle was rocked by a series of food safety crises that sickened hundreds of customers across the country and included exposure to virulent pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus, resulting in vomiting, pain, and in some cases hospitalizations. Despite claiming major food safety reforms instituted in 2016 to recapture consumer confidence, the company continued to have food-borne illness problems in 2017 and 2018, including an Ohio outbreak in which 647 people were sickened.

Despite Chipotle implementing an “enhanced food safety program” in 2016, the City’s Department of Health found 260 critical violations at 74 out of 84 restaurants from 2017 to 2019. Critical violations are those most likely to pose “a substantial risk to the public’s health” and lead to food-borne illness. The critical violation examples found by health inspectors include food left at dangerous temperatures that allow for the growth of pathogens, practices that allow for the contamination of ready-to-eat foods, evidence of various pests, and stores supervised by managers without a certificate in food protection. Just two weeks ago, the City cited a Chipotle restaurant where they found a crewmember working while “ill with a disease transmissible by food or [an] exposed infected cut or burn on [their] hand”.

Worker advocates and community groups were surprised by the findings and expressed support for Chipotle workers:

“Chipotle has not only acted duplicitously—championing a mission of integrity and freshness in public while speeding up production and cutting corners behind the counter—the company has created added risks for workers and consumers in the pursuit of profits,” said Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Outlined in this report are issues that range from cautionary to alarming. Will Chipotle wait for another outbreak before they take corrective action—or will they take action ‘with integrity’ now to reduce potential harm?”

“This report is vital to understanding that the exploitation of workers in the food industry does not just impact workers and their families, it impacts everyone, including consumers,” Suzanne Adely of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said. “Chipotle and all food service workers deserve fair working conditions. Denying them basic, humane rights like sick days, proper healthy and safe working spaces, cannot be justified. Exploiting food workers for profit does not only harm workers and their families, it harms everyone, including consumers.”

“Chipotle is another example of worker safety and consumer safety being undermined together,” said Charlene Obernauer of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). “Chipotle has a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and they need to take the appropriate steps to make this possible.”

“This report details how Chipotle’s low-road labor standards and incentives for managers to cut corners are endangering the dining public,” said Paul Sonn, State Policy Program Director for the National Employment Law Project. “Chipotle needs to recognize that investing in its workforce with stable, quality jobs is essential for delivering a safe and healthy dining experience for its customers.” 

“We are deeply concerned with the workplace issues, especially that of forced arbitration described by Chipotle workers in this study,” Deborah Axt of Make the Road said. “We stand with Chipotle workers, the majority of whom are workers of color and many of whom are from communities like the ones our members are from, in calling for company-wide reforms and a commitment to invest in a stable workforce.”

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About 32BJ SEIU

With 175,000 members in 11 states, including 85,000 in New York, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country. 

About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

New study says Chipotle management presses workers to work sick and skip food safety practices, creating health risks for consumers

February 6, 2020

The Unsavory side of ‘Food with Integrity.’ ” report details management practices that lead to worker abuses and call into question protocols Chipotle put in place after recent food safety crises

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

New York — After dozens of outbreaks of foodborne illness incidents over the past four years, Chipotle gave lip service to reforms in their work practices, but the fast-casual restaurant has continued to engage in management practices that lead to abuses of workers that may create food safety risks for consumers, a new study says.

Scores of employees interviewed for the study reported management pressure to work fast without following proper food safety procedures, such as:

  • One worker being pressured to work while sick, even after the worker vomited partway into his shift;
  • Undercooked chicken being served to a customer because the grill cookout in place had not been properly trained;
  • Workers pressured to work so fast that during lunch and dinner rushes, they often flipped over  chopping boards used to cut raw meat, and reused the boards without washing them;
  • One worker who cooked food had to clean feces off the floor or ceiling of a bathroom multiple times without hazmat suit or adequate protection equipment;
  • Pressure to work without stopping, with no time left to wash their hands for hours on end.

In the report, “The Unsavory Side of ‘Food with Integrity,'” workers told researchers that their managers often knew when supposedly independent audits were coming because other managers or field leaders who have undergone inspection often tip them off. Workers reported that managers relax rules outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when inspections are imminent.

“The findings of this report call into question the effectiveness of measures that Chipotle put in place to solve their food safety crises of a few years ago,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, which co-authored the report. “If Chipotle executive management and the Food Safety Advisory Council are responsible for making sure that this program is implemented effectively to keep the public safe, they have been asleep at the wheel.”

The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization which has been representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since their founding in 1899, undertook the study after SEIU Local 32BJ brought the organization information from field organizers about what were learning about practices that could affect consumer food safety from Chipotle workers they were supporting in their organizing efforts.

Organizers and researchers spoke to hundreds of workers, then undertook formal interviews with 47 workers at 25 stores in New York City. These interviews and statements form the basis of the report, which also included analysis of a variety of corporate filings, press reports, and other publicly available documents.

“We chose to blow the whistle on these practices and abuses because our Chipotle managers did not listen to us,” Jeremy Espinal, a Chipotle worker, said. “It’s a pressure-packed workplace where supervisors intimidate you and retaliate against you.”

“I am speaking out because I want to make Chipotle a better place to work and a better place for customers to eat,” Jahaira Garcia, another Chipotle worker, said. “This job is how I support myself, how I help my father out with expenses at home and how I am able to partly pay for my school fees.”

32BJ President Kyle Bragg thanked the National Consumers League for working with the union and thanked the workers for their courage.

“I believe that these workers are Chipotle’s best assets,” Bragg said. “They can put the integrity back into ‘food with integrity.’ Give them a voice on the job and they will help Chipotle achieve the lofty ideals of its marketing.”

Report findings include:

  • Managerial pay incentives that promote cutting food safety corners:  managers can earn up to an additional 25% of base pay by meeting performance goals that include reducing labor costs, creating a highly pressurized work environment. This bonus program may incentivize managers to meet productivity goals by cutting corners on food safety or by violating worker protection laws.
  • Ineffective store audits: Worker interviews revealed that general managers frequently know when supposedly independent audits are coming because other managers or field leaders who have been inspected often tip them off. Workers reported that managers have relaxed rules following outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when an audit is imminent.
  • Pressure to work sick: New York-based workers reported that managers have pressured crew members to work while sick or retaliated against workers for taking paid sick leave.
  • Minimal training: Despite the substantial skills needed to safely prepare Chipotle’s fresh food menu, many new hires receive minimal training and “learn as they go” from co-workers who may not have received much training themselves.

“As chairman of the New York City Council Public Health Committee, this is deeply troubling to me,” said New York Councilmember Mark Levine. “Risk of contagion should not be aggravated by an aggressive incentive structure that encourages managers to abuse workers and cut food safety corners. The public needs to know more and Chipotle needs to change their policies. That is why I am calling for a public hearing in the Council. I encourage Chipotle workers and consumers to come forward to discuss these issues. I also invite the company to be there to engage in this conversation.”

Nick Freudenberg, distinguished professor of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, discussed Chipotle’s history of food borne disease outbreaks.

In 2015 and 2016, Chipotle was rocked by a series of food safety crises that sickened hundreds of customers across the country and included exposure to virulent pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus, resulting in vomiting, pain, and in some cases hospitalizations. Despite claiming major food safety reforms instituted in 2016 to recapture consumer confidence, the company continued to have food-borne illness problems in 2017 and 2018, including an Ohio outbreak in which 647 people were sickened.

Despite Chipotle implementing an “enhanced food safety program” in 2016, the City’s Department of Health found 260 critical violations at 74 out of 84 restaurants from 2017 to 2019. Critical violations are those most likely to pose “a substantial risk to the public’s health” and lead to food-borne illness. The critical violation examples found by health inspectors include food left at dangerous temperatures that allow for the growth of pathogens, practices that allow for the contamination of ready-to-eat foods, evidence of various pests, and stores supervised by managers without a certificate in food protection. Just two weeks ago, the City cited a Chipotle restaurant where they found a crewmember working while “ill with a disease transmissible by food or [an] exposed infected cut or burn on [their] hand”.

Worker advocates and community groups were surprised by the findings and expressed support for Chipotle workers:

“Chipotle has not only acted duplicitously—championing a mission of integrity and freshness in public while speeding up production and cutting corners behind the counter—the company has created added risks for workers and consumers in the pursuit of profits,” said Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Outlined in this report are issues that range from cautionary to alarming. Will Chipotle wait for another outbreak before they take corrective action—or will they take action ‘with integrity’ now to reduce potential harm?”

“This report is vital to understanding that the exploitation of workers in the food industry does not just impact workers and their families, it impacts everyone, including consumers,” Suzanne Adely of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said. “Chipotle and all food service workers deserve fair working conditions. Denying them basic, humane rights like sick days, proper healthy and safe working spaces, cannot be justified. Exploiting food workers for profit does not only harm workers and their families, it harms everyone, including consumers.”

“Chipotle is another example of worker safety and consumer safety being undermined together,” said Charlene Obernauer of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). “Chipotle has a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and they need to take the appropriate steps to make this possible.”

“This report details how Chipotle’s low-road labor standards and incentives for managers to cut corners are endangering the dining public,” said Paul Sonn, State Policy Program Director for the National Employment Law Project. “Chipotle needs to recognize that investing in its workforce with stable, quality jobs is essential for delivering a safe and healthy dining experience for its customers.”

“We are deeply concerned with the workplace issues, especially that of forced arbitration described by Chipotle workers in this study,” Deborah Axt of Make the Road said. “We stand with Chipotle workers, the majority of whom are workers of color and many of whom are from communities like the ones our members are from, in calling for company-wide reforms and a commitment to invest in a stable workforce.”

###

About 32BJ SEIU

With 175,000 members in 11 states, including 85,000 in New York, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

LifeSmarts program awards scholarships to five student leaders from Morehead City, NC, Bedford, TX, and Ellenboro, WV

January 30, 2020

Contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202)  207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) has announced five scholarship recipients, honored for their involvement in a community service and leadership initiative made possible through its consumer literacy program, LifeSmarts  (LifeSmarts.org). The students have been awarded $1,000 academic scholarships for winning entries based on their experiences serving as Safety Smart® Ambassadors, a partnership between LifeSmarts and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that pairs high school students with elementary classrooms to teach lessons about health, safety, and the environment. 

Scholarship winners 

  • Addison Jones, (11th grade), West Virginia – Ritchie County High School
  • Allison Little, (10th grade), Texas – Midcities Montessori
  • Matthew Loynes, (12th grade), North Carolina – West Carteret High School
  • Abby Olstrup, (10th grade), Texas – Midcities Montessori
  • Destinee Smith, (11th grade), West Virginia – Ritchie County High School

In 2019, more than 300 LifeSmarts students became Safety Smart Ambassadors. Working as teams, high school students made more than 500 interactive, 30-minute presentations, sharing empowering and educational safety messages with 13,600 young children throughout their communities. LifeSmarts is a national program that competitively tests high school students’ knowledge of consumer awareness, with subjects including personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights and responsibility, technology, and the environment.

“We are so proud of our students who participated in the Safety Smart Ambassador program and the positive impact they made on their communities, and especially these five stand-outs,” said Lisa Hertzberg,  LifeSmarts program director. “We truly appreciate this partnership with UL. It has been extremely gratifying to see LifeSmarts students embrace the Safety Smart Ambassador program, provide education and mentoring to younger children, and learn about themselves in the process.” 

The LifeSmarts and UL partnership has underwritten the Safety Smart Ambassador program and provided LifeSmarts with access to the vast knowledge base of UL’s educational programs, including resources for LifeSmarts to bolster its science and environment curriculum, resources, and competitive opportunities. 

For more information, please visit LifeSmarts.org/SafetySmart.  

Winter 2020 Safety Smart Ambassador award winners – in their own words  

Addison Jones (WV)

I have never been good at public speaking. Throughout this experience, I have learned how to adapt to a younger audience and how I can improve my public speaking skills. This truly was an amazing learning experience and I am grateful to have such amazing partners, along with an amazing group of children as an audience.

Allison Little (TX)

Safety Smart has always been one of the highlights of my year. I love teaching kids new things especially when it’s meaningful for all of us. Teaching kids to wash their hands correctly helps them prevent illness and keeps others from getting sick as well. It’s a win, win. 

Matthew Loynes (NC)

This program is more than a community service project to me. It has enriched my High School career in a way that nothing else has. The main draw is interacting with children and feeling like I am making a difference. Safety Smart allows me to step into the education of hundreds of kids and teach them about something that I find very important. This program has gone a long way in teaching me the value of youth education. It has also shown me how much of a difference I can make.

Abby Olstrup (TX)

I brought out a blacklight so we could see all the germs on their hands. They were intrigued as they searched for germs on their hands. I heard one kid talking to his friend saying, “I could feel the germs on my hand.” Then we came around and gave them hand sanitizer to clean off their hands and brought out the blacklight again to see if the germs were still there. We explained that hand sanitizer is good to use if you don’t have soap or warm water. They counted to twenty so they could see how long they should scrub their hands. After this we discussed other ways they could stay healthy. We then passed out “germ fighters” stickers that we created. With what they know about germs and staying healthy, I can officially say that they are “germ fighters” and Safety Smart.

Destinee Smith (WV)

Honestly, I’d never known children had such a narrow understanding of how treacherous the online world could be, or how important it was to make sure they knew these things at such a young age. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to open up their young minds to something that will quite literally affect them for the rest of their lives.

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About LifeSmarts and the National Consumers League 

LifeSmarts is a program of the National Consumers League. State coordinators run the programs on a volunteer basis. LifeSmarts educational resources are available online throughout the year at LifeSmarts.org. Competition begins again in September. For more information, visit: LifeSmarts.org. 

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  nclnet.org. 

Script Your Future launches ninth annual student competition for innovations in medication adherence

January 20, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today marks the launch of the ninth annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a two-month-long intercollegiate competition among health profession student teams and faculty for creating solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, hosted by the National Consumers League (NCL), is returning to university campuses across the country after eight years of successful student competition and innovation.

The Challenge is an integral part of Script Your Future, a campaign launched by NCL and its partners in 2011 to combat the problem of poor medication adherence in the United States, where nearly three out of four patients do not take their medication as directed.

“Today’s medications are better than ever at treating and curing people, but these treatments can only work if patients know the importance of taking their prescriptions as directed. It takes all members of the health team to make that happen, and pharmacists play a big role in that circle of trust,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “For nine years, our Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has galvanized student health professionals to explore creative, interprofessional approaches, in encouraging medication adherence. To usher Script Your Future into the next era of improving adherence, we have implemented two new components to the Team Challenge: technology innovation and vaccine adherence. We have been blown away by the ingenuity of our student teams, and we look forward to how they will contribute to their communities in this year’s Team Challenge.”

The Challenge is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

Starting today through March 20, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and others—will implement creative outreach approaches in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence. At the end of the Challenge, teams submit entries for review by national partner organizations, and winners are recognized for their efforts to improve medication adherence.

“The Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has provided a tremendous opportunity for health professions students to demonstrate how they can work collaboratively to improve patient care through better medication adherence,” said Dr. Lucinda L. Maine, Executive Vice President and CEO at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. “This Challenge, now in its ninth year, is a powerful example of the impact health professions teams can have on the public health issue of medication adherence.”

Since the Challenge began in 2011, more than 18,800 future health care professionals have directly counseled nearly 78,000 patients and reached more than 26 million consumers about the importance of medication adherence. Last year’s National awardees were Pacific University School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, North East Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (NEOMED), Touro University California College of Pharmacy, and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy earned the Rookie Award for their outstanding contribution during their first year of participation in the Team Challenge.

In addition to the national-level awards, the Challenge also honors teams with focused awards in the areas of health disparities, communications and media outreach, and creative inter-professional team collaboration. In 2019, the Challenge honored the following schools with focused awards: Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (Health Disparities), Touro University College of Pharmacy (Media Outreach), and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (Creative Inter-professional Team Event).

To learn about previous winners, visit https://www.scriptyourfuture.org/

For more information on the Challenge, visit the Challenge Community website at

https://syfadherencechallenge.ning.com/. Tweet along with us during the Challenge using #SYFchallenge, and follow the campaign @IWillTakeMyMeds.

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About Script Your Future 

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information about the Script Your Future campaign, visit ScriptYourFuture.org. For more information on NCL, please visit nclnet.org.

National Consumers League statement on FDA action regarding CBD

November 29, 2019

Leading consumer advocate urges ‘buyer beware’ as busiest shopping season of the year gets underway

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League and a convening partner of Consumers for Safe CBD, today released the following statement in response to FDA’s recent action regarding CBD:

“The decision by the FDA to send 15 new warning letters and remind consumers of potential harm caused by untested and illegal CBD is a step forward in keeping millions of Americans safe. While regular communication from the FDA is helpful, it’s critical that we pursue tangible actions that will lead to broad awareness and prevent the sale of harmful CBD products in a marketplace that is growing by the day. This includes enforcing existing regulations regarding labeling and ingredients, as well as setting safe concentration levels. We cannot wake up a year from now and wish that we had done something when there are practical and achievable solutions right in front of us. Our recent polling shows that 83 percent of registered voters support regulating CBD. We need the gold standard that the FDA provides now more than ever.

“Today marks the start of the busiest shopping season of the year. As consumers head to stores and browse the Internet for deals, we are urging buyer beware when it comes to CBD products. The risk of not getting what you pay for and, even worse, putting one’s own health in jeopardy is far too great. Until the FDA steps in with its stamp of approval, we have no choice but to warn consumers to avoid unregulated CBD products and encourage family and friends to do the same.

“The National Consumers League and Consumers for Safe CBD will continue to work with advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure that we keep people safe, provide a much-needed sense of clarity and put the interests of the consumer first.”

Learn more about the CBD Myths and Facts HERE.

Learn more about what could be in CBD products HERE.

See what others are saying about CBD HERE.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.