A recent study suggests that approximately two million Americans could be taking medications and/or supplements that could cause negative interactions. While older people are at more risk – half take five or more prescriptions, vitamins, or dietary supplements – some of these interactions are potentially life-threatening. The study showed that 175,000 emergency room visits per year are related to adverse drug interactions. Although drug interactions do not always cause serious reactions, many medicines and supplements do not require prescriptions, and patients assume that they are safe without consulting their doctor about possible side effects and drug-to-drug interactions. Experts advise that patients should always consult their physician when taking any medications or supplements. The report showing just how many older people are using risky combinations comes from a study of nearly 3,000 interviews with people aged 57 to 85. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and University of Chicago, appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Ninety percent in this age group use at least one medication, and as people grow older, the number of medications used increases. The study highlights a few common potentially harmful interactions.
Dec 30, 2008 Read More
Temptation always beckons, it seems, or we’d have less need for a criminal justice system. Retailers have been intent on stemming the toll of organized shoplifting rings that swoop in with ‘shopping’ lists and redistribute stolen goods to flea markets, eBay and other outlets. Chains know and target these asset-robbers aggressively. Also posing risk of devastating losses—as if retailers don’t have enough challenges these days—are individuals driven to steal by their economic distress. Shoplifting arrests are way up this year, by 10% to 20%, police departments around the United States told The New York Times recently, which concluded the problem may be even more acute, since “shoplifters are often banned from stores rather than arrested.” Easing the path to thievery is Internet technology (for receipt and price-tag fraud and resale of stolen goods), an influx of seasonal workers who may not be well-vetted themselves or well-trained to detect shoplifting, and stores’ own hesitancy to stop suspicious people in their aisles. The tough economy adds to a dicey mix that makes even first-time offenders think they can dodge security—and they might for awhile. Among shoplifter tactics: bags lined with foil to avoid triggering store entrance/exit alarms, coordinated teams, runners, and fake documentation obtained online.
Dec 30, 2008 Read More
Retailers are growing their foodservice sales at the direct expense of quick-service restaurants. They’re capitalizing mostly on afternoon snacks (35% of retail meal solutions revenue) and morning meals (21%), according to new research by NPD Group, Port Washington, NY. “These are the on-the-go needs that are being met by retailers—consumers making those purchases on the way to work, to eat at work, or in their car—purchases that otherwise would have been made at a QSR,” explained Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst and author of NPD’s Retail Meal Solutions report. The report dispels the popular notion that supper is the prime day part for retail meal and snack solutions. Though supper is growing steadily at retail (while declining at QSRs), it still accounts for just 17% of retail meals. Lunch generates 17% of the estimated $13 billion spent on retail foodservice annually. On a unit basis, retail foodservice channels (food, drug, discount and department stores and wholesale clubs) pumped out 6% of the approximate 62 billion commercial foodservice meals and snacks consumed in a year. Convenience stores generated another 7%, noted NPD in its report covering the 12 months ended August 2008.
Dec 29, 2008 Read More
The roller coaster ride of 2008 oil prices is currently in steep decline, and no one knows for how long. What we do know is that in this extraordinarily difficult year, consumers will take their breaks where they find them. This ‘giveback’ does put more cash in people’s pockets in the short-term, but the amount of spending it leads to will likely be less because people need to pay back debt, start recouping investment losses, and build safety funds in case they should lose their jobs. Consumer confidence is lower than the shallowest oil puddle. Still, there’s one area where America needs to keep spending—and that is on food and beverage, and other household essentials. “OPEC’s loss is grocers’ gain…the grocery store is the most likely place for Americans to spend savings from the pump,” said Toronto-based retail analytics firm Precima, in framing their new research findings. Their online survey of 45,000 U.S. households shortly after Thanksgiving (conducted by ICOM Information & Communications) yielded more than 3,000 projectable responses from U.S. consumers, who identified ways they use money saved on gasoline: Groceries led the list at 48%. Savings, the #2 activity at 42%, was trailed by holiday gift buying (37%), paying off credit cards (30%), entertainment (10%) and other (14%).
Dec 24, 2008 Read More
Dear President-elect Obama: On behalf of the nation’s independent community-based retail and wholesale grocers I congratulate you on your historic election as the forty-fourth President of the United States. The National Grocers Association (N.G.A.) is pleased to take this opportunity to begin a constructive dialogue with you and your administration as we look to the next four years of challenges and opportunities. The National Grocers Association’s retail grocers and wholesalers are the heart of their communities, neighbors serving neighbors, whether in the city, suburbs or rural America. N.G.A.’s retailers and wholesalers are privately owned or controlled family businesses who are the true entrepreneurs of the grocery industry that help drive our economy in every community and serve our nation’s consumers. These and other entrepreneurial businesses drive economic growth and provide over 50 percent of the jobs in the country. Entrepreneurs are not asking for any special considerations or bailouts, but only seek to compete on a level playing field. As the nation looks to the future, this entrepreneurial business sector shares your concerns about the economic challenges ahead and pledges to work constructively with you to develop sound solutions. N.G.A. supports your goal to provide additional appropriate stimulus to the economy and urges you in this historic time of economic uncertainty to provide the opportunity for entrepreneurial businesses to succeed. An economic stimulus can best be accomplished in this unstable time by decreasing, not increasing, corporate tax rates, or the taxes on individuals that operate their businesses as subchapter S corporations or other pass through entities. A comprehensive stimulus package should include among other items, extension of the current expensing and bonus accelerated depreciation. These tax incentives are used by retailers and wholesalers to invest in technology, energy saving equipment, and trucks for their businesses in order to better serve consumers, their communities, create jobs, and grow the economy. In the long run, meaningful relief from the federal estate tax must provide family owned businesses the incentive to pass the business on to the next generation, and not to have to recapitalize or sell the company in order to pay estate taxes.
Dec 23, 2008 Read More
All the ways retailers, suppliers and consumers demonstrate their green-ness are painting America with a fresh layer of environmental protectiveness. Trouble is, neither our nation’s activity nor our vision goes far enough, suggests the World Wildlife Fund in a position paper it calls “Leading the World Toward a Safer and Sustainable Future: Greenprint for a New Administration.” The 17-page document, along with its 48-page Living Planet Report, serves as an urgent calling card to the incoming Obama presidency. “U.S. foreign policy has paid too little attention to the social, economic and environmental causes underlying many current conflicts [which] unchecked may pose a greater threat to global security in the future than terrorism does today,” the paper compels. WWF cites climate change, natural resource exhaustion and ecosystem collapse as being “among the most profound and long-term threats to peace and security in the 21st century. The conflict imperiling the planet in the coming millennium is less likely to be between nations than between man and nature.” The environment, says WWF, is “already stressed by unsustainable development, climate change and pollution….Consumptive demands are rising….Riots erupting as a result of soaring food prices may only be a taste of things to come if we fail to address this growing imbalance between what humanity consumes and what nature, in its declining state, can provide.”
Dec 23, 2008 Read More
Science has a far way to go to replicate Nature in its quest to improve our collective health. Consider this one point from the website of Receptronics, a collaborative research project funded by the European Commission: “The sensitivity of chemical senses in insects is 100 billion times greater than state-of-the-art electronic noses.” Welcome to the enormous challenge scientists face who aim to detect specific molecules in order to “identify the onset or prediction of disease before the patient shows any symptoms,” noted the site of the project, coordinated by Professor Marco Tartagni, of the Center of Excellence ARCES & Department of Electronics and Computer Sciences, II School of Engineering, University of Bologna, Italy. A potential breakthrough technology for “early cancer diagnosis and hormone balance monitoring…[and] for detecting contaminants at very low concentration for environmental safety in agricultural and industrial processes,” Receptronics findings could lead to quicker treatments that are appropriate to specific patients, and lead to fewer side effects and faster recovery.
Dec 22, 2008 Read More
All around the world on December 24th, Christians celebrate Christmas with both the religious and the secular traditions. One tradition that combines the two is the serving of an expansive fish supper following mass that includes, at least, seven fish dishes, for the seven sacraments. Each dish represents one of the seven sacraments. Seven is also an important number in Christianity to indicate the Seven Hills of Rome, the seven days it took Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem and, in the beginning, the seven days it took to create the world. (The ichthus, a fish-like symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs resembling the profile of a fish, an early symbol in Christianity and recalls the description of the disciples of Jesus as "fishers of men.")
Dec 21, 2008 Read More
A glass of cold milk might seem less refreshing after reading this story. A burger might seem less satisfying. Beef cattle are suffering hugely this fall/winter because of severe storms and cold fronts that came early to big ranching states like Montana, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. The harsh weather scattered cattle across the open range, and separated them from their usual food sources—grasslands when it is warm and grain when it is cold. Unaccustomed to the cold bite, they shiver at night and need to consume more calories to maintain or gain weight. A harsh winter uses up feed supplies much faster. “When you consider that a very cold winter hasn’t occurred in many years, it explains why the market is paying attention to it,” said Gail Martell, senior agriculture analyst of Storm Exchange. One grim prospect: cattlemen might send beef cattle to their early slaughter to market them earlier. They would decide this if they believe the added expense of grain feed, and the difficulty of transporting feed and water to their dispersed herds (no easy task) would have little effect on cattle weight gain, and therefore wouldn’t be a worthwhile economic activity.
Dec 19, 2008 Read More