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Monday, May 16, 2011

How Much Should We Believe in Activia? How Much Do You Throw in the Tip Jar?

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2011 at 8:32 AM


Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. Food as Medicine. The New York Times ran a great article yesterday about the increase in foods marketing themselves for their health benefits. The FDA, finding some of these claims excessive, has been suing companies like Dannon (for its Activia claims) and Kellogg (for the way it has marketed Frosted Mini-Wheats). The best go-get-'em quote of the piece:

The [FDA's] concern, says David C. Vladeck, director of its bureau of consumer protection, is not only that people might be paying more for foods that are no more healthful than other brands. At a time when millions lack health insurance, he also worries that people who buy foods that, for instance, claim to bolster immunity or reduce the risk of prostate cancer might forgo a flu shot or a doctor's visit. "If people are going to spend their money for health benefits," Mr. Vladeck says, "they ought to get them."

2. 15, 20, 25 Percent? This weekend, NPR's Marketplace Money ran a segment about how technology ― specifically credit card slips with "suggested tip" amounts ― may be confusing the issue of tipping. Besides reminding people that you're supposed to tip on the pretax amount, the segment revealed that the weather, and change in hand, have more to do with the amount people tip than the service itself.

The piece also brought up the modern tipper's familiar dilemma: With tip jars appearing everywhere but fast-food restaurants, how much do you tip for takeout? Personally, I tip around 10 percent or so if the counter people do something for me ― make a sandwich, deliver food and silverware to where I'm sitting ― and nothing if they're reaching into a glass case and fetching a pastry to put into a bag. But sometimes I feel like a cheapskate for making those distinctions. You?

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