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Consumer Daily Reports

Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.

Consumer News: Food processing could eliminate health benefits from high-fiber foods

Photo (c) vgajic - Getty Images
Recent studies have highlighted how fiber can lower consumers’ risk of disease. A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Otago has confirmed those findings, particularly when it comes to diabetes; however, the way food is prepared could affect the benefits linked with fiber. 

The researchers learned that fiber can increase life expectancy for those struggling with diabetes, but opting for processed food can reduce the benefits that come from the nutrient. 

“Whole grain foods are now widely believed to be beneficial, but increasingly products available on the supermarket shelves are ultra-processed,” said researcher Jim Mann.  

Moving away from processed foods

To get to these findings, the researchers conducted two complementary studies. The first study evaluated data from over 8,300 participants with type 1 or type 2 diabetes; the second study analyzed the effect processed foods had on participants with type 2 diabetes. 

In the first study, participants reported on their daily dietary intake, giving the researchers a clear picture of how much fiber they were getting each day. The researchers learned that those who ate more than the recommended serving of fiber each day reduced their risk of premature death by over 30 percent. 

“Try a few different ways for you to increase your fibre intake, see what works best for you,” said researcher Dr. Andrew Reynolds. “If you eat white or refined bread or rolls, try changing to whole grain bread or rolls. Try brown rice, try brown pasta, try adding half a tin of legumes to meals you already make.” 

Building off of these findings, the second study had participants experiment with different types of fiber sources to determine how they affected the body. The manipulation to the participants’ diets occurred over two two-week periods; the participants alternated between heavily processed foods for two weeks and lesser-processed foods for another two weeks. 

Based on blood sugar readings, heavily processed foods yielded poorer health outcomes for the participants than the foods that weren’t as heavily processed. 

Fiber from better sources

Though these studies focused on those with diabetes, the researchers explained that all consumers can benefit from adding more fiber into their diets. However, the source of that fiber can ultimately make the biggest difference. 

“...We are now beginning to understand that how foods are processed is also important, and for whole grains when you finely mill them you can remove their benefits,” said Dr. Reynolds. 

Read more ...

Consumer News: Pharmacies preparing for increase in flu shot demand this fall and winter

Photo (c) Byjeng - Getty Images
Amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections this fall, pharmacy chains are bracing for a big surge in consumers seeking flu vaccinations beginning in October, Reuters reports.

CVS said it’s working to make sure it has enough vaccine doses available to vaccinate everyone seeking a flu shot in five months’ time. Rite Aid said it ordered 40 percent more vaccine doses this year in anticipation of higher-than-usual demand for the shots. Walmart and Walgreens have also said they’re preparing to administer more flu shots than usual this flu season. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get a flu vaccination. Most years, fewer than half of Amerians get vaccinated. This year, however, the number of consumers who said they will definitely or are likely to get a flu shot rose from 34 percent to 65 percent between January and May, according to a survey commissioned by CVS Health.

Preventing flu cases

While getting a flu shot won’t protect against COVID-19, the vaccination will help prevent cases of the flu from rising and overwhelming an already burdened health care system. 

Together, the flu and COVID-19 could have a bigger impact on Americans than the first wave of COVID-19 infections. 

“We’re in for a double-barreled assault this fall and winter with flu and COVID. Flu is the one you can do something about,” Vanderbilt University Medical Center infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner told Reuters.

Drive-through clinics could be used

Since many Americans may still be wary of visiting medical facilities due to coronavirus concerns this fall, some health officials have suggested coming up with alternative ways of administering the shots in order to make sure everyone gets vaccinated. 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, said pharmacies, public health clinics, and other flu shot providers may need to set up drive-up clinics for flu vaccines.

“My goal is that every single vaccine dose that gets made gets into somebody’s arm to protect them. I don’t want any vaccines left on the shelves or in doctors’ offices,” Messonnier said in an interview.

Read more ...

Consumer News: How to brew better coffee at home

man pouring coffee
Photo (c) AleksandarNakic - Getty

Humanity runs on coffee — it wakes us up in the morning, makes our afternoon breaks far more stimulating and always brings a smile to our face. If you’re bored with drip coffee and k-cups, here are some tips to improve your coffee-making routine at home.


1. Keep whole beans fresh

The best way to get fresh whole bean coffee is directly from a roaster. Your beans will be fresher, and you’ll be supporting a small business. "Single-origin beans tend to be of higher quality than blends," according to Kathryn Parkman, a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team and former barista. "If you like more chocolatey notes in your cup, look for washed process beans. Natural process beans are dried with the coffee cherry pulp still attached, which means the coffee has fruitier notes once it’s roasted."


Once you’ve invested in quality beans, it’s essential you store them properly. We suggest using an air-tight stainless steel or glass container to prevent light, moisture and oxygen from compromising the integrity of your beans for up to a month.

coffee gator canister
Photo (c) Amazon

2. Grind ’em right 

The right grind can make all the difference. "A good coffee grinder is vital because it lets you adjust the coarseness of your beans to fit your brewing method best," Parkman explained. "For example, you should use a coarser grind when you use a French press and a finer grind when you use an espresso machine." Think of the brewing process like water moving through either gravel or sand. Coffee that is ground too coarse will be under-extracted (too weak), and coffee that is too fine will be over-extracted (bitter).


For those who typically make one cup at a time, manual grinders are excellent because they give you more control. Automatic grinders are more convenient if you’re making coffee in larger batches, and better for those with arthritis because all you have to do is press a button.

Porlex Coffee Grinder

porlex coffee grinder
Photo (c) Amazon

Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Grinder

baratza virtuoso conical bur grinder
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Automatic coffee grinder
  • Built-in timer and LED backlight

Buy on Amazon

3. Select your brewing apparatus

Most baristas suggest using a pour-over or French press. "The pour-over process is a little more involved since you’re continuously replenishing the water. The extra effort is worth it if you want to bring out the more subtle, fruitier notes of your coffee," Kathryn said. 

Many coffee-drinkers prefer French presses because they require less attention to make a good coffee cup. Since a French press immerses the grounds, you retain more of the natural oils in the beans. Parkman suggests using a French press for darker roasts if you want a more full-bodied cup.

A pour-over is easier to clean, but also requires that you stock up on coffee filters. You have to dismantle a French press to clean it properly, but you also don’t have to worry about getting filters since that’s built-in.

4. Get scientific about it

Making coffee can feel like a sacred ritual, but there’s actually a lot of science behind the perfect cup. Real coffee geniuses know how to accurately dial in coffee-to-water ratios, water temperatures and brewing times. With these tools, you can experiment with different adjustments to bring out the best in your beans. 

Use a scale for precise ratios

For ideal extraction, measure your coffee by weight instead of volume. Most baristas recommend using a coffee-to-water ratio around 1:16, meaning one gram of coffee per 16 grams of water. Look for a scale that also has a built-in timer so you can track how long your coffee brews.

If you don’t have a scale, a good rule of thumb is one tablespoon of grounds for every four ounces of water. Remember: Always use clean, filtered water if you want to avoid adding impurities to your coffee.

Use a thermometer for precise temperatures 

The best temperature to brew coffee is between 198 and 202 degrees Fahrenheit. Flavors will extract too slowly if your water is cooler and too quickly if it’s closer to boiling.

Taylor Waterproof Thermometer

taylor waterproof thermometer
Photo (c) Amazon

Hario Scale with Timer

hario scale with timer
Photo (c) Amazon

Use a gooseneck kettle for precise extraction

A gooseneck kettle makes it easier to saturate grounds consistently. “A lot of people who don’t like making pour-overs at home just don’t have a gooseneck kettle,” said Parkman. There are 3 steps involved with brewing a pour-over — wetting, dissolution and diffusion — and each requires that you control your flow rate.

Coffee nerd bonus tip: GINGER!

Adding ginger to bad-quality coffee can help make it more drinkable. Parkman doesn’t suggest putting ginger in a fresh, correctly brewed pour-over. However, it can help in more desperate times, like when you have to refill your thermos at a gas station. Plus, ginger has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Read more ...

Consumer News: 9 cool chess sets, from least to most expensive

girl playing chess
Photo (c) ilkercelik - Getty

Even those of us who don’t know a knight from a bishop can appreciate the beauty of a chess set. We selected eight of our favorite chess sets on Amazon and listed them from least to most expensive. Prices are subject to change — costs listed here are from May 2020.

Glass chess set

It’s the cheapest chess set on our list, but also one of the most unique. Especially considering the price, this is truly a beautiful and eye-catching chess set. The board has alternating transparent and frosted squares so that you can see your playing surface.

glass chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Fun, simple chess set for learning

It’s always nice to see a chess set aimed at beginners that still has a sense of style. This chess set has classic black and white squares and couldn’t be easier for beginners, especially kids. The board is made of wood and lined with velvet. We highly recommend this one for teaching kids how to think critically and maybe even exercise some patience.

fun and simple chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Wizard’s Chess

Even people who haven’t read Harry Potter will be intrigued by this whimsical chess set. The board recreates the magical game known as Wizard’s Chess from the popular series. The pieces are plastic but have fantastic detail, so kids and adult fans alike are big fans of this one.

harry potter chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Star Wars chess set

Get ready for a galactic showdown! Embrace the light side or the dark side with this Star Wars-themed chess set. The chess set features Star Wars characters like Boba Fett, Darth Vader, R2 D2 and Han Solo. Even if you never play chess, this is a cool one to display in your home.

star wars chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Batman chess set

It’s rare to see a chess set this colorful. This chess board pits the friends of Gotham City — including Batman — against the baddies, led by Joker. This chess set makes a great gift, especially for kids, who will be eager to learn how each piece works.

batman chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Metal chess set

Most chess sets have wooden pieces or sometimes even plastic. To play with real gravitas, opt for metal pieces. The weight and clang make the chess battle seem even more serious. We like that this board has storage beneath it. It’s practical but also elevates the rest of the chessboard, adding again to the coolness factor.

metal chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Greek and Roman chess set

Here it is, the first set on our list over $100. The gold and bronze squares are pleasant to look at but don’t hinder the ease of play. The rooks — also known as castles — take on the forms of pillars in this chess set. Other pieces wear traditional Greek and Roman togas.

greek roman chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Egyptian chess set

This one’s pricey, but it sure is incredible, especially for Egyptologists. Four sphinxes “hold up” the board from four corners, and the board itself is decorated with hieroglyphs and scarab beetles. A pharaoh commands each team, and the other pieces take influence from Egyptian mythology.

egyptian chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Isle of Lewis chess set

The one you’ve been waiting for — the priciest chess set on our list! This is one of the most expensive chess sets on Amazon, but also one of the most interesting. The Isle of Lewis chess board is based on a 12th-century chess set discovered in 1831 made from walrus ivory. This chess set was created using a laser recreation of the original Isle of Lewis chess game. With the set, you’ll feel like you own a piece of history.

isle of lewis chess set
Photo (c) Amazon

Read more ...

Consumer News: USDA expands online shopping options for SNAP participants

Photo (c) jetcityimage - Getty Images
There’s good news for SNAP recipients to start out the week. The number of approved states allowing participants to purchase food online has increased to 36, accounting for 90 percent of the program’s users. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the remaining states will phase in over the next few weeks.

The newest states added to the program include: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.

USDA says options are expanding

With the number of Americans filing for unemployment climbing sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic, states are seeing a torrent of new SNAP applications. That, in turn, has prompted consumers concerned about the safety of a physical store to take their shopping online.

According to a study by Escalent, a human behavior and analytics firm, the number of consumers taking their grocery shopping online grew more than 400 percent in March and April of 2020 compared to 2019. 

It’s not exactly surprising that WalMart and Amazon are the two biggest online options for SNAP participants. However, the USDA has sprinkled in a few local favorites like Wright’s Markets in Alabama and ShopRite in New York. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue promised to keep expanding the number of independents to give consumers more options during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are expanding new flexibilities and innovative programs to make sure Americans across this country have safe and nutritious food during this national emergency,” said Perdue. 

“Enabling people to purchase foods online will go a long way in helping Americans follow CDC social distancing guidelines and help slow the spread of the coronavirus. USDA is mandated with the noble goal of feeding Americans when they need it most, and we are fulfilling that mission with new innovative programs during this national emergency.”

Hurdles still exist for users

In ConsumerAffairs’ research on the subject, we found that getting USDA approval doesn’t mean retailers can just snap their fingers and immediately turn on access for their shoppers. 

“The main hurdle to implementation is the fact that SNAP users must input a PIN number corresponding to their account when they check out,” said Jeff Wells at GroceryDive. 

“States and retailers must enable a payment program that incorporates and can securely process shoppers’ PIN numbers. Additionally, retailers must update their online ordering systems to factor out sales tax for SNAP purchases, handle manufacturer coupons and enable refunds for recipients, and implement a separate payment tender option for delivery fees, which SNAP dollars do not cover.”

Other hurdles that Wells found include:

  • Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) issues: Just because a state is “approved,” that doesn’t mean it automatically allows a SNAP beneficiary to shop online. Wells says that each state has to update their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) systems to be able to process, track, and store online SNAP data. 

  • Becoming compliant is not an overnight thing: “Online payments under the USDA’s pilot program provide a contactless way for shoppers to buy groceries,” Wells said. “But becoming fully compliant is also complex and time-consuming, so retailers have rolled out pickup programs that allow SNAP consumers to shop online and then pay once they retrieve their order.”

  • There may be added fees: Some consumers might find added fees an insult to injury, but GroceryDive reports that state legislators are trying to find a way for retailers to waive delivery fees for SNAP consumers during the pandemic.

Skip the online route and go to the store

Wells, for one, thinks the best short-term route for SNAP users is going to their local grocer and waiting until the USDA and the states shake out all the problems inherent with shifting to an online model. 

“For now, the majority of consumers receiving food assistance must continue shopping for groceries in stores, where retailers have implemented numerous safeguards, from one-way aisles to plexiglass barriers at checkout,” he said.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Coronavirus update: Holiday crowds ignore warnings, another vaccine candidate

Photo (c) Igor Kutyaev - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 1,667,154 (1,583,561)

Total U.S. deaths: 98,371 (95,052)

Total global cases: 5,534,728 (5,154,152)

Total global deaths: 347,587 (335,063)

Health officials worry about Memorial Day crowds

Thousands of Americans ignored health officials admonishments about crowding into tight spaces and did just that over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Many people headed to beaches and lakes and observed little to no social distancing.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told a television interviewer that she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend.

“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” Birx said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Scientists have recently concluded that the coronavirus is much more likely to spread in large gatherings than small ones.

Another vaccine is being tested

There’s a new entry in the race to develop the first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. 

Novavax says it has begun a Phase 1 clinical trial of a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate and has signed up the test’s first participants. A Phase 1 trial determines whether a drug is safe for human consumption.

Novavax says its vaccine candidate - given the name  NVX-CoV2373 -- has the objective of increasing the body’s immune responses. To do that, the vaccine will be combined with Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant.

“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, Novavax’s CEO. 

The company expects preliminary Phase 1 results from the trial in July. It joins Moderna’s experimental vaccine, which is completing a Phase 2 trial.

Evidence points to fewer students in college this fall

The nation’s colleges and universities have taken a financial hit amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not only have these institutions had to shift overnight to online classes, but they’ve had to refund money to students who paid for room and board, parking, and assorted activities.

While colleges had held the line on refunding tuition, there’s new evidence that they may see fewer tuition-paying students in the fall. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, the gateway for federal education money, reports a significant drop in requests for funds.

Since both parents and students have told pollsters that the economic fallout from the coronavirus has reduced their ability to pay for schools, it could suggest fewer students plan to attend school in the fall.

Health concerns decrease, financial concerns increase

A new survey of consumers by Deloitte shows consumers have learned to live with the coronavirus, with a declining number expressing worry about getting it. At the same time, an increasing number say they’re worried about the economic harm the virus-related shutdown is causing.

As of the middle of May, only 48 percent of consumers said they worried about their health, down from 57 percent in early April. Sixty percent said they are concerned about the health of others, down from a high of 72 percent.

At the same time, 27 percent of consumers said they’re worried about their ability to make upcoming payments and 43 percent are putting off major purchases, with those numbers significantly higher among millennials.

Appeal for blood plasma

A coalition of medical and health organizations is ramping up its appeal for blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from the coronavirus. The plasma is needed to support the rapid development of potential new therapies for patients with COVID-19. 

Advocates say timely donations are critical. They need to recruit COVID-19 survivors within two months of their recovery to ensure that their blood plasma contains a robust enough concentration of antibodies to have a positive effect and to address the substantial seasonal increase in COVID-19 cases anticipated this fall in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Inside COVID-19 survivors is the antibody-rich blood plasma that may help stem the tide of this pandemic,” said Diana Berrent, founder of one of the participating groups. 

Around the nation

  • Pennsylvania: The conflict between small business owners and government officials is becoming increasingly partisan. The owners of a York diner criticized Democrats for “going too far” after state officials suspended their business license for reopening in defiance of the governor’s orders. 

  • Missouri: State health officials have expressed alarm after seeing pictures of Memorial Day partiers jammed into a pool at Lake of the Ozarks. Officials say everyone who attended the party should self-quarantine for 14 days.

  • California: The state has set out rules for places of worship to reopen their doors to congregations. The rules limit worshipers to 100 or fewer, taking everyone's temperature, limiting singing and group recitations, and not sharing prayer books or other items.

Read more ...

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