Safety in question: The alarming disparities between cannabis product health claims and research, and the magnified risks for women

By Health Policy Intern Grace Lassila

July 27, 2023

When I started my National Consumers League (NCL) internship in May 2023, I quickly dove into NCL’s health policy work. NCL is leading on several efforts to protect consumers –one area of focus that stood out to me is their work in the cannabis policy space. NCL is a founding member of Cannabis Consumer Watch (CCW), which educates consumers on cannabinoids, their effects, the risks related to the unregulated marketplace, and the ways policymakers and regulators can help protect consumers. NCL is also a part of the Collaborative for Cannabinoid Science and Safety (CCSS), which also works to educate people about cannabinoids and policy in the interest of public health.

CCW’s “test your cannabis knowledge” quiz was shocking for me. Going into the quiz, I was fairly confident about my knowledge, but as I started getting wrong answer after wrong answer, I realized I had no idea that not only are these products under-researched, but they may pose serious public health risks for consumers. Products can be sold, without having gained FDA approval, making false claims about their medicinal abilities.  And side effects are not adequately researched or revealed to consumers.

One particularly concerning aspect of the cannabis marketplace is that while CBD or Delta-8 or other cannabis products are often marketed to women, there is a concerning lack of research into the safety of these products for women. Historically, misogyny and sex discrimination have made women’s health severely under-researched and underfunded. More research on diseases, disorders, and medication is conducted on men, not women. Women are misdiagnosed far greater than men are, and experience dangerous health outcomes because of it (Greenhalgh). And without sufficient research and data on women’s health, it is incredibly difficult for legislators to write policy (Adams). Overall, for women’s health to improve, more resources need to be devoted to this issue.

Despite cannabis companies’ marketing efforts that claim their products can help with anything from menstrual cycle-related pain to morning sickness, there is little insight into the effects of cannabis or cannabis derivatives on women, pregnant people, nursing parents, and newborns. What we do know is that the risks are very real – a recent study found that THC use during pregnancy was linked to changes in fetal development and several studies have shown that CBD can be transferred to a baby via breast milk. The FDA strongly advises against THC or CBD usage while pregnant or breastfeeding. And, given the evidence currently available, I would caution any women from using these products for medical benefit.

The lack of regulation, as well as research, is very concerning. Because the FDA currently does not regulate these products, consumers have no way of knowing whether the dosage, ingredients, or claims on the label are accurate and no way of knowing whether or not they are contaminated. Though some products may acknowledge they are ‘Not Approved by FDA,’ many consumers may not see this fine print – and assume that anything they can buy at their local grocery store must be safe for consumption. While the risks of an unregulated cannabis marketplace affects all consumers, women who need medical health and relief and turn to cannabis products may be more at risk.

The good news is that in January of this year, the FDA recognized this grey area for regulation – particularly for CBD – and stated that CBD would not be regulated as a food and dietary supplement anymore, because of the unknown safety risks, and requesting that Congress act quickly to protect public health and the consumers involved.

While cannabis products are often marketed as a miracle drug, they are not. While there may be some health benefits, without comprehensive research and regulation of these products, the risks outweigh the potential good. Consumers remain responsible for making their health decisions, and women in particular should be vigilant. The FDA is heading in the right direction but more must be done to protect consumers – and women in particular. I encourage you to learn more about a safe path forward here and help NCL raise awareness of this important issue.


Adams, Katie. “Women’s Health Is Suffering Due to Lack of Research and Funding, Experts Say.” MedCity News, 9 Dec. 2022,’s%20health%20has%20been%20historically,healthcare%20conference%20in%20Washington%2C%20D.C.

Eversheds Sutherland. “FDA Says ‘No’ to CBD: Now What?” FDA Says “No” to CBD: Now What? – Eversheds Sutherland,,%2Dapproved%20drug%20(Epidiolex). Accessed 6 July 2023.

Greenhalgh, Ally. “Medicine and Misogyny: The Misdiagnosis of Women.” Confluence, 5 Dec. 2022,

Grinspoon, Peter. “Cannabidiol (CBD): What We Know and What We Don’t.” Harvard Health, 24 Sept. 2021,

“What You Should Know about Using CBD When Pregnant or Breastfeeding.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration,,during%20pregnancy%20or%20while%20breastfeeding.&text=Cannabis%20and%20Cannabis-derived%20products,products%20appearing%20all%20the%20time. Accessed 6 July 2023.

My path from strawberry and blueberry fields to college

By Alma Hernandez, NCL Child Labor Coalition Summer 2022 Intern

Alma attends the University of South Florida, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health.

Alma Hernandez (far right) is joined by fellow National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association  farmworker youth interns Jose Velasquez Castellano and Gizela Gaspar. NCL CLC Coordinator Reid Maki is also in the photo.

Imagine being a five-year-old child – happy and carefree. The age where you either attend pre-K or start kindergarten. But can you imagine a five-year-old working in farm fields in hot 90-degree humid weather with her parents? I was that child. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, closed-toed shoes, and a hat to protect me from the hot sun. At five years old, I was unaware of how difficult agricultural labor is. My mom had enrolled me at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program, but she also wanted to teach me to value my education.

My mother’s life lesson started during the weekend after I did not want to wake up for school. My mother remembers that I was full of confidence when asked if I wanted to go to work with her and my father. However, I did not know what was in store for me.

Arriving at the fields around 7:30 am, I first saw endless rows of strawberry fields. I felt enthusiastic. My task: collect as many bright red strawberries as I could and place them in my pink Halloween bucket. After filling my bucket, I would give the strawberries to one of my parents. Around 12, I felt the heat. It was around 90 degrees. The humidity made it feel worse. I felt like I was in 100-degree weather; I did not like that at all and wanted to go home. I was already tired and asked if we could leave. My mom said no; I had to stay until they finished. And so I kept working.

I do not recall what happened the rest of the time I was there, but I remember what happened afterward. I went home and sat on the stairs of the house with a red face, a headache, and clothes covered in dirt, and reflected on the decision I had made to join my parents in the strawberry fields. I went inside. I was so tired that I ignored dinner and skipped a shower and went straight to bed just to wake up the next day, to repeat another day of long, hard work. My parents had me help them one more day; and convinced that my lesson was learned, they let stay home where, in the next few years, I could help take care of younger siblings when my parents could not find childcare.

Although my work in the strawberry fields was short-lived, I have much more experience harvesting blueberries. I started working on blueberry farms when I was 12 years old and worked every summer until I was 16. The blueberry season starts in the summer after school ends in Florida.

My family and I would leave Florida near the end of June and start the 17-hour drive to Michigan. Unlike the strawberry season, I liked picking blueberries because I did not have to bend down low to the ground all day; blueberry plants grow higher. My job was to fill up my six buckets. Once they were all filled, I would carry all the buckets to place them into plastic containers and have them weighed. On average, six buckets would be 42 to 45 pounds, and depending on who we were working for, the average pay was 0.45 to 0.55 cents a pound. I had to pick as many pounds as I could. On good days, I would be able to pick 200 pounds or more; on many other days, I would pick less.

The clothing I wore was also the same: long sleeves, jeans, closed toes shoes, and a hat to protect myself from the sun. The weather in Michigan is not as humid as it is in Florida; usually, it was in the mid-80s to low 90-degrees however it was still hot being there all day. We would go in each morning at 8:30 or later depending on how wet the blueberry plants were and leave the fields around 8 or 9 at night.

I did not like going to a new school in Michigan every September just to leave in late October and return to Florida and start school. The curriculum was very different; I would excel quickly in Michigan since what I was learning I had already studied in Florida. But I also did not like how every time I would go to a new school, I’d be the “new girl,” struggling to make friends but knowing I would soon be migrating. “What is the point?” I would wonder. So I always kept to myself and only spoke when I was spoken to, and to this day I still do.

I also did not like the “what did you do during the summer?” question on the first day of school when I returned to Florida because all I did was work all summer and had no fun. Work caused my parents to miss many school functions that other parents would attend. Sometimes, it felt like a lack of support, but I understood that this type of work was their only way to generate income to provide for the family.

This summer, after four years away, I came back to Michigan with my family for the blueberry harvest one more time. Now that I am 20 and reflecting on my family’s agricultural experience, I appreciate my parents for what they have done for my siblings and me. They wake up early every day, go to work, come home to cook, and still spend a little bit of time with my younger siblings. I help around as much as I can because I know they cannot do everything on their own, especially now that they are getting older. I know they are tired and have no rest days. But thanks to them, I am the first person in my family to go to college and serve as an example to my siblings which proves to them that there is a reason for our parent’s sacrifices.

School is almost back in session. This year, think LifeSmarts. – National Consumers League

By Lee Parker, LifeSmarts program Intern
Lee Parker is a LifeSmarts intern at NCL. He will begin his junior year this fall at Tulane University, where he is pursuing degrees in Political Economy, and Legal Studies in Business. Lee has a passion for promoting consumer education and financial literacy. Lee is a member of the Tulane debate team, and is helping to launch Common Sense Action, a new youth advocacy movement fighting for generational equity.

Brace yourselves: It’s August. For kids, this means the last chances to bask in the summer air of freedom. For parents, this means an ever-closer return to the “normalcy” of the school year.  For me, it means facing the realities of being an adult for the first time: paying rent and utilities, buying furniture and other household goods for my new apartment, and beginning to sort out the rest of my life. This constitutes the college student/young adult’s version of “back-to-school shopping,” a necessary transition between summer vacation and the school year, for students of all ages. But back-to-school shopping offers a much more fruitful opportunity that is often overlooked, with benefits that will far outlast the upcoming school year. A survey conducted in July by Capital One found that, “69% of parents said they believe they are doing enough to teach their kids about personal finance and money management…yet less than half of teens (47%) say they have worked with their parents to develop a budget for spending and saving.” This discrepancy, while understandable, is very disheartening. Like many things, teenagers gain most of their personal finance knowledge from their parents. But without substantial, hands-on practice with basic issues such as budgeting for utilities, insurance and other necessities, young adults can easily be overwhelmed by these so-called “real world problems.” As I move into my first apartment this month, I must admit I’m nervous about dealing with these new responsibilities. Now more than ever, I will be using the knowledge that LifeSmarts does a spectacular job of teaching. After just over a month working with the LifeSmarts program, I can only wish I had competed in LifeSmarts back in high school. As LifeSmarts embarks on its 20th year of education young consumers, competitors and coaches alike can expect some exciting new possibilities just on the horizon. From the launch of the newly redesigned LifeSmarts website (coming later this month), to holding head-to-head competitions between teams on Google Hangout, LifeSmarts has quite the future ahead of it. But it isn’t about the future of LifeSmarts; it’s about the future of the young adults who gain so much practical knowledge from participating in LifeSmarts. Graduates who begin living independently for the first time are so much better equipped to face new responsibilities, and thrive in the new chapters of their lives to become smarter consumers, smarter citizens, and just smarter people. And I am firm believer in the mantra “knowledge is power,” in that smarter people make better people.

Is it good or bad that obesity is now classified as a disease? – National Consumers League

By Zoe Stahl, Food and Labor Policy Intern
Last month, the American Medical Association (AMA) designated obesity a disease.  With this decision, 78 million adults and 12 million children have suddenly been categorized as having a disease.   And with this decision has come much debate: is this in fact a step forward? To provide a better understanding of the implications, here’s a list of pros and cons of AMA’s policy change:

Pros: Many wrongly consider the obese to be lazy and indulgent. Classifying obesity as a disease may help undermine these negative stereotypes by reminding the public that obesity is a chronic disease caused by a number of factors, including one’s genes and the environment.
  • Medical schools, overwhelmed by all the material they need to cover, often neglect teaching obesity prevention. AMA’s decision may spur the addition of nutrition-focused classes to schools’ curriculum, helping to enhance the ability of future doctors to address obesity.
  • This new policy may also encourage doctors to provide much-needed counseling and targeted interventions to those struggling with their weight. Prevention and intervention are especially important given that obesity correlates with certain health issues, such as hypertension, sleep apnea, heart attack, stroke and certain cancers.


  • As a society, we often use weight as a proxy for health. However, many studies have shown that being thin does not necessarily mean being healthier. While higher weights can lead to increased risk of type 2 diabetes,  heavier women are all less likely to develop osteoporosis; this is the perfect illustration that thinner is not always better. Classifying obesity as a disease may only further our conflation of weight and health—and all the negatives that come with that falsehood like fat discrimination and an overemphasis on calorie reduction.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI), which is often used to measure and diagnose obesity, is calculated by dividing body mass by the square of height, but is  an imperfect way to measure and diagnose obesity. Though seemingly accurate, BMI fails to accurately detect obesity. An individual who is fit and muscular can have a high BMI, while an individual who is low in weight and high in body fat could be considered normal weight. This inaccurate system can lead to misdiagnosis, causing doctors to overemphasize weight at the expense of overall health.
  • Finally, some fear that this new classification will spur a new round of aggressive anti-obesity measures by the government, such as a “fat tax” on highly saturated foods. Many are concerned that the government will become more paternalistic, limiting and infringing on their personal liberty.

If some of this seems contradictory, it is. The science is, too. Nonetheless, the recent classification of obesity as a disease is an important one. By bringing attention to what many consider a public health issue, the AMA has reminded the general public of the need for continued research, efforts and education.

Beware of door-to-door magazine sales, it may be a scam – National Consumers League

Sam Hamer, Public Policy Intern Summer is finally here! Unfortunately, along with cicadas and lazy afternoons by the barbecue, door-to-door magazine sales scams are likely to appear in many consumers’ neighborhoods. These scams typically begin with a knock at the door and a young person on the other side claiming to be raising money for a charity, school trip, or other seemingly worthy cause by selling magazine subscriptions. In fact, consumers who take the bait and sign up for a subscription often report that they receive nothing in return.

Every year, young people fan out across the country, looking to make easy money from unsuspecting consumers. In Medford, Ore. last month, two young adults were arrested after they were discovered depositing into the bank over $4,500 collected from fraudulent door-to-door book and magazine subscription sales.

This couple acted as isolated perpetrators, yet several companies that annually employ young salespeople to peddle suspect magazine subscriptions have drawn hundreds of complaints about their sales tactics and product, earning them a rating of ‘F’ from the Better Business Bureau. Indeed, subscription fraud is not a rare occurrence. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives over 10,000 complaints each year from consumers that witness this variety of fraud. Nor is subscription fraud endemic to a particular area of the country. The Better Business Bureau has logged complaints from virtually every state in the union. Tragically, the intentions of magazine sales crews may not stop at subscription fraud. One former sales crew member interviewed by the New York Times testified that he regularly stole from his customers, including such items as “wedding rings, watches, necklaces, money, checks, shoes, clothing, glasses, [and] hats.” Unlicensed peddlers can be especially dangerous. Columbia County (Ga.) law enforcement apprehended 17 members of a sales crew, 5 of whom had criminal records involving violent crimes, in February 2011.

Given the potential for fraud anytime a salesperson rings the doorbell, consumers should take some basic precautions that can improve their safety and security. First of all, as the consumer protection blog Consumerist suggests, “there are better ways of buying magazine subscriptions and of supporting teens, charities, and troops, and there’s no reason the two worlds need to be mashed together on your front porch without warning.” Instead of handing a check to a stranger right then and there, consider asking the salesperson for more information about the charity he or she represents, and commit to making a donation online or over the phone.

Subscribing to a magazine can be achieved just as easily through the Internet or phone. For consumers who have already made a “front-porch” purchase or might consider doing so in the future, the FTC has instituted a “Cooling-off Rule” that gives consumers three business days to cancel purchases of $25 or more made at their home for a full refund. Also, under the Rule, the salesperson must convey the customer’s right to cancel at the time of sale and provide two cancellation forms along with a receipt. Any salesperson that does not explain how to cancel or provide forms to do so should automatically raise a red flag. Moreover, consumers who have made a purchase within the past three days but distrust the legitimacy of their purchase have the right to a full refund from the seller.

Government officials have attempted to stem the subscription fraud epidemic, but since the problem persists, consumers should also exercise vigilance to help root out fraud. Before making a purchase, always ask the salesperson to see a valid solicitation license and, if possible, research the company or charity with the Better Business Bureau ( If the salesperson pressures you to make a decision immediately, tell him or her to come back tomorrow once you’ve done your homework. Consumers who suspect they’ve been victims of fraud should file a complaint with local law enforcement, as well as with the BBB or FTC. Newspaper and magazine publishers are also on the lookout for fraud (e.g. The Wall Street Journal and The Nation magazine) so make sure to check with them to see whether your subscription has been registered in their system. FIGHT FRAUD: Steps to take when a magazine salesperson approaches you

Join us in a twitterchat about online and mobile safety while traveling #ChatSTC – National Consumers League

By Nikola Sirovica, Communications Intern School is out, graduations are over, and the time for your summer vacation has arrived! You have your sunscreen, your giant cooler, and the beach chairs – all you need is that dream destination. Whether you are embarking on a last-minute getaway with friends or a family vacation planned months in advance, keeping your mobile devices safe and secure in unfamiliar places can be a challenge. Join us this Thursday, July 18 for a Twitterchat to discuss how to keep yourself safe online when traveling.

There are many tricks that criminals use to defraud vacationers via their mobile devices. How do you know if your Wi-Fi network is secure? What do you do if you lose your phone away from home? Should you change your privacy settings when traveling? As consumers, it is very important to know your rights and take extra precautions while traveling. Be extra wary of any prizes and sweepstakes telling you that you’ve won a trip to the Bahamas, Florida, or any other dream location. These scams will ask you to pay a fee up front before you can receive your prize. Anyone who pays the fee will unfortunately find out the trip doesn’t exist and they have fallen victim to a scam. On Thursday, NCL will be a guest expert in a Twitterchat organized by the National Cyber Security Alliance’s (NCSA) global cyber security campaign Stop. Think. Connect. Among the topics covered will be how to spot travel scams, how to identify reliable Wi-Fi connections, safe online banking, and which apps can be helpful to protect you when you are on the road. Ask questions in advance using the hashtag #ChatSTC, and the panel of experts will answer. Or, follow the conversation live at #ChatSTC. When: Thursday, July 18th at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT Who: National Consumers League (@ncl_tweets), STOP. THINK. CONNECT. (@STOPTHNKCONNECT), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (@cyber), McAfee (@McAfeeConsumer), the FCC (@FCC).

The House splits the Farm Bill, is this a good strategy? – National Consumers League

By Teresa Green, Linda Golodner Food Safety & Nutrition Fellow For anyone interested in the food policy, and many people who aren’t, it has been difficult to avoid discussion of the farm bill over the last few months.  This expensive and important piece of legislation has historically been passed every five years and regulates both farm and nutrition policy.

Last year, however, the farm bill was not voted on as it should have been.  Stymied by election year politics, the bill was never brought forward for a vote in the House of Representatives, despite passage in the Senate.  The result was a one year extension of the 2008 farm bill and plans to deal with the bill this year instead.  The bill did come up for a vote in the House this year as planned, however, much to the shock of many observers, it was voted down.  Struggling to reassert their leadership after this surprising defeat, Republican leaders in the House decided to reintroduce the bill with one notable difference; to ensure passage they removed the nutrition title (SNAP funding and other nutrition programs) from the bill. This change has nutrition and farm groups deeply concerned.  Since the 1970s, the farm bill has included both farm programs and nutrition programs.  It is this pairing that has facilitated an alliance between Democrats and Republicans, urban and rural constituencies, to pass this important piece of legislation year after year.  By separating the two parts of the bill, Republicans have won a short term victory—passage of a farm bill in the House—but likely face a more difficult struggle to reach agreement with a Democratically led Senate. Consumer, nutrition and farm groups are all concerned about this move.  Nutrition programs, especially SNAP (formerly food stamps), are an essential part of the social safety net, particularly in tough economic times.  These programs have been under attack in recent years, and this move only heightens concern.  Those who believe the government has a responsibility to assure its citizens can put food on the table should call their Congressmen, in both the Senate and the House, to urge them to push hard for continued nutrition spending and a final farm bill that adequately addresses hunger.

A reason to whine about wine – National Consumers League

By Sam Hamer, Public Policy Intern  To all the Romeos and Juliets out there, your romantic dinner may have become more expensive than you anticipated. That’s because wine prices in American restaurants have risen to prodigious heights, or so contends The Wall Street Journal wine columnist Lettie Teague.

In her June 2013 column, “Highs and (Rare) Lows in Restaurant Wine Prices,” Teague surveys the wine lists of several fine-dining restaurants in New York City, revealing that the practice of marking up the price of wine bottles to four or five times their wholesale value has become commonplace. Teague cites such upscale restaurants as Montmartre, a French bistro in Chelsea, where the Pinot blanc (wholesale price $16) sells for a whopping $67 in house. For patrons of Manhattan’s fine dining scene—likely the most gourmet in North America—splurging on a $67 white wine may not be so outlandish. Yet diners across the United States and Canada are feeling the pinch. When CTV, a Canadian news station, surveyed a dozen restaurants around Winnipeg, Manitoba, they found price markups of over 300%.

As Teague warns, this sort of pricing can keep people from drinking wine, a real shame for more than just the Journal’s wine columnist. Of course, no restaurant patron can expect to pay merely retail price for a glass or bottle of wine, and virtually every restaurant wine purchase includes some price markup. Inputs such as a liquor license, fancy glasses, cellar space, and binders and stationary for the wine list don’t come without a price. Restaurant owners must also pay a sommelier and/or train waitstaff in how to pair and serve wine. Moreover, the fact that fine restaurants earn relatively small margins on their entrees makes alcohol sales necessary to maintain relatively high expenses. Even Teague concedes that wine is a “revenue center.”

Whether or not restaurants can justify a four-fold uptick in the price of wine can and will be debated. Some wine aficionados have contended that wine prices should be even higher, analogizing that “it costs 25 cents to make a cup [of coffee], but they’re going to charge $4 because there’s labor, cleaning and all of those factors that get priced into the markup.” With or without markups, wine prices have risen recently as the industry faces considerable production challenges.

In 2012, wine inventories dipped 6.1% to their lowest stock in over 30 years on account of poor weather. Vineyard prices also swelled, with a prime acre in Bordeaux soaring to $1.3 million, 10% higher than the 2011 price. Prices were also driven higher by consumer demand. As the LA Times reported, “Last year, wine sales in the U.S. reached a record high, rising 2% from 2011 to 360.1 million cases worth an estimated $34.6 billion.” The combination of a production shortage, heightened demand, and amplified markups(?) have buoyed wine prices by an average of 5.35% at upscale restaurants in the past 6 months, according to a report released by Restaurant Sciences.

For consumers looking to skirt restaurant markups, 26 states and 6 Canadian provinces grant diners the privilege of carrying in their own wine to be served with dinner. But BYOB laws, as they are called, don’t always let diners escape the additional costs of consuming wine in house. Many restaurants will charge a “corkage fee”—frequently $25 or more at high-end restaurants—to cover the costs of glasses, table service, and lost revenue on account of a customer’s decision to not purchase wine from the menu. So then what is a cash-strapped Romeo to do when he wishes to woo Lady Juliet over dinner and a bottle of Merlot? As one blogger put it, the wine-buying public should seek out establishments that put emphasis on a fairly-priced wine list. By the same token, diners should call out restaurateurs who charge for excessively priced wine, i.e., more than three times the wine’s retail value. For individuals particularly passionate about the issue, the upstart nonprofit American Wine Consumer Coalition (AWCC) provides an outlet for advocacy on behalf of wine consumers.

Google’s Transparency Report reveals widespread global malware – National Consumers League

By Sam Hamer and R.J. Smith, Public Policy Interns Last week, tech giant Google released its semiannual Transparency Report, which for the first time included data about malware and security threats drawn from the company’s Safe Browsing program. The program began in 2006 as a way to identify infected sites and warn browser users who attempt to access them.

According to Google: “Our security team built Safe Browsing to identify unsafe Web sites and notify users and webmasters so they can protect themselves from harm. By providing details about the threats we detect and the warnings we show, we hope to shine some light on the state of web security and encourage safer web security practices.” As part of the Safe Browsing program, Google scans a fraction of sites in each country and utilizes the data to indicate the prevalence of sites hosting malware. A country-by-country breakdown of the prevalence of malware-infected sites shows, for instance, that approximately 2 percent of the over 14 million sites in the United States contain malware or phishing scams.

By comparison, roughly 15 percent of sites in India tested positive for malware, one of the highest rates in the world. Google’s worldwide tracker identifies as many as 90,000 unsafe Web sites per week, notifying webmasters each time fraudulent code is discovered. In addition to delivering a warning page to browser users who attempt to access these infected sites, webmasters receive a report notifying them of the corruption and instructing them to fix the problem. Google’s disclosure of malware infection data has received significant media coverage, with the New York TimesNBC News, and CNN covering the release, in addition to a smattering of online magazines and tech blogs. Many credit Google with increasing popular awareness of “just how unsafe the Internet has become,” as the New York Times put it.

Google’s Dorothy Chou disclosed in an email that, “the coverage has been fairly neutral to positive.” But, she notes, “[it is] probably too early to know what people are doing with the data release yet.” Indeed, while Google’s collection of malware and phishing data over the past half-decade has provided greater certainty of where malicious online activity persists, just what the vanguards of online security should do with the data is less certain. As privacy blogger John Hawes notes on the blog Naked Security, webmasters can now monitor the Safe Browsing site for data about their site provider service.

If Google’s data show that a particular site provider comes up as a host for a number of infected sites, then webmasters will know that they should start asking questions, Hawes suggests. Moreover, webmasters can better inform themselves about which site providers have a clean record, and flag those providers who host numerous infected sites. If anything, the Safe Browsing program has contributed to a heightened awareness of Internet scams among the general populace. While many Internet users have heard of the words “phishing” and “malware,” Google has shed additional light on the scope of the problem. As Google engineer Niels Provos put it, “[Safe Browsing] is about making the Internet a safer environment… We want to make as much information available about the state of the Web as we see it…By putting [the data] out there, we want to educate Web masters that this is very real, that the danger of you getting infected is very large.”

Beware of pomegranate seeds as Hepatitis A outbreak spreads – National Consumers League

By Zoe Stahl, Food and Labor Policy Intern
Over the past month, the food safety community has been gathering more and more information about a recent Hepatitis A outbreak. The outbreak, which has infected 140 people, has been linked to pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey and can be found in the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to investigate how the outbreak occurred.

But, in the meanwhile, let’s get the facts straight. What’s Hepatitis A? Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver disease.  The virus is typically spread through the ingestion of fecal matter, usually through contaminated food or close contact with an infected person. What’s been done? The business community responded quickly. Costco, which had sold the Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend to over 240,000 customers since February, has been calling customers to notify them of the outbreak.  They have also announced the recall and pulled the product off of their shelves. The Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network, an FDA-led team of state agencies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been working hard to trace the virus as well. So, could this outbreak have been prevented? It is likely that this outbreak could have been prevented through the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which creates a food safety system more focused on prevention than response.  The import portion of the law, which would help make imported foods meet the same food safety standards as the ones in the U.S., has yet to be implemented. If the rule had been put into effect, this outbreak could very easily have been prevented. Unfortunately, the rule has been stuck in the bureaucracy of government agencies and has not yet been released. Perhaps this tragic outbreak will provide the impetus the government needs to release this essential import rule before any more outbreaks occur.