Friday, May 9, 2008

The Thing About Plastic

Have you been keeping up with the latest about plastic?

I don't watch the news, I don't often read the paper. I get most of my news when something jumps out at me from my Google Homepage, or if I read about it on one of my forums. One parenting forum has been all a-buzz lately with talk about plastic.

More specifically, it's BPA that is causing a stir. BPA is bisphenol-a, a chemical used in some types of plastic. Apparently it leaches into food and liquids (especially hot stuff) and can cause all sorts of health problems, including hormonal and developmental issues, tumor growth and cancer. Photobucket

I usually pay no attention to the health hype of the week, simply because the way it normally goes is that by next week it won't be as bad as it sounded and there will be something else gonna make us all die. Plus, plastic is everywhere. Is it really realistic to stop using it? Heck, it's in our mouths; two of my kids got dental sealants last week and will be getting it in their fillings next. Hmm, which of the three dental options to go for...mercury, plastic or rotten teeth? Photobucket I can stop buying canned soup (BPA is widely used in the liners of food cans) and make my own. I can store it in those Ziploc containers...nope. Baggies? No....Tupperware? They refuse to comment, so who knows...So yeah, homemade soup is initially healthier for us but ultimately it all goes into the plastic somehow. I can't afford to buy everything in glass containers. I can't afford to buy everything fresh, although I do buy lots fresh, and bring it home to store in....plastic. Photobucket

I hope you get my point. It is simply not realistic for me to completely be rid of this, even if I try as hard as I can. I'm guessing it's the same for most families. And will getting rid of a little make any difference at all? Well, the jury is out on that.

But one of the effects of this is cancer and tumor growth. My Dad already has cancer, as we found out last month, so I did tell him about this so he can make informed choices. He is opting for alternative treatment for now, so he's eating everything fresh. But storing it in plastic, of course. No-win situation. Photobucket

Apparently some of the biggest risk is to young and unborn babies. Pregnant moms - please keep an eye on your plastic use. Bottle feeding moms - it's in most plastic bottles, so you may want to switch. Wal-Mart has already pulled bottles off their shelves, unless stated to be BPA free. Some ARE BPA free already, so do check! AND it is still in the liners of the formula cans. Powder is best. Canada is about to declare BPA as toxic and ban its use in baby bottles (although baby bottles seem to be the only item it will be banned in for now).

Guide to Baby-Safe Bottles & Formula

I will take this moment to get up on my soapbox and suggest breastfeeding! I nursed all my babies, including the triplets who never had a single drop of formula. Photobucket

Also, check your plastic sippy cups, plates, cutlery. Photobucket

Most plastic items have a number, usually found on the bottom of an item, inside a little triangle like this:
The numbers are one through seven. The "bad" numbers - the BPA plastics - are 3, 6, and 7. Here is a list:

Which Plastics Are Safe?

Here are some links..I still can't find a whole lot, but these seem to be informative:

FDA reviewing plastic ingredient BPA

Study of Chemical in Plastic Bottles Raises Alarm

Canada likely to label plastic ingredient BPA 'toxic'

Toxic designation would not force bisphenol A off shelves

Cigarettes, asbestos, lead paint...among others were all once in common use until the dangers were really known. This won't be the last. As one mom on the parenting board said, parents used to load up their newborn infant in the car at the hospital, with no car seat, and drive home with the windows up and cigarettes lit. To put to bed in the crib painted with lead paint. Never knowing how dangerous it was. At least now, the parents who still do things like that have no excuse to say they "didn't know". It's all about information to make our choices. I don't know yet what to do about plastic. I have a fortune tied up in Tupperware. But I can use the information here to at least choose not to freeze or heat foods in dangerous plastics. I can choose to replace water bottles with safer ones. I can't eliminate it, but I can lessen it if I choose. I sought out this info to help me make choices for my family. I am posting it in case it may help someone else to do the same. Photobucket

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Customer Service Review - Quiznos

I'm a stickler for customer service. 'What's that?' You young whippersnapppers may ask - and with good reason! It's very hard to find these days. Ask your parents, and they may just remember it themselves, but maybe not. It was in style long ago...once upon a many years ago that it does seem like a fairy tale. It involved companies actually trying to please their customers, and stuff like that. But I digress; on to the story. Photobucket

It was a warm spring day. A and I headed into Quiznos for lunch after a morning at the dentist. He had seen the commercials and was in the mood for something "mmmmmmmToasty" for a change. So in we went. We are not frequent Quiznos customers, so we took longer than most at the menu board. Finally, our choices were made. He got the Italian Sub; I ordered the Baja Chicken with Bacon. It was a tough choice; a tossup between that and the Mesquite Chicken with Bacon. See, I love chicken, and I love bacon. But I really, really love cilantro -- so I chose the Baja.

At the other end of the toaster the clerk added the extra toppings. "I would really love some extra cilantro, please" I requested. The clerk gave me a funny look - "Oh, we don't have cilantro!" Interpreting this as meaning they were simply out - after all, the word cilantro and the little green leaves were very much in evidence in the pictures - I expressed my disappointment. The manager stepped forward as if irate at our discussion. "We're not OUT. We don't keep it here. It isn't practical for me to carry cilantro. Do you know how long it keeps? And that's the only sandwich that calls for it. Hardly anyone orders that sandwich. Why should I order it?"

"Well, because it's on the menu, and the menu says cilantro; maybe you should put a little note on the menu that you don't have any cilantro so that people know before they order?" I suggested.

"You are the first person to ever complain" he said.

"I don't see how that makes any difference...if it says there will be cilantro, there ought to be cilantro" I replied.

Long silence.

Deep sigh.

"Lady, if you want another sandwich, I will make you one. But we just don't have any cilantro!"

I didn't ask for another sandwich. It wasn't about the cilantro, anyway. It was about the fact that cilantro was specifically mentioned as an ingredient and he had simply decided that he would not only not make any effort whatsoever to provide the advertised product, but that he would also insult the intelligence of any customer who actually had the audacity to want the product as advertised. Photobucket

I wonder what kind of leeway independent Quiznos owners have to alter the menu? But it's not about that, either. I am not demanding that he keep cilantro on hand. It makes absolutely no difference to me one way or another. What I DO have a problem with is that it is advertised as such. A small handwritten note on each picture / description in the store "Sorry, no cilantro" would completely satisfy me. False advertising is a little pet peeve of mine.

Since most people don't even seem to know what cilantro is, they probably don't know anything about the cost or shelf life either. I do buy it frequently. It's true that I can't personally use up a bunch of cilantro before it rots and I have to throw the rest out. It comes in a bunch like parsley, and costs about 75 cents a bunch in my store. It lasts in the fridge for about a week in the bag you got at the store. If I use it every day I still can't use it up before it rots.

So, let's figure this out, shall we? If hardly anyone ever orders the Baja Chicken, that means that they can buy one bunch of cilantro per week and not use it all up, it would be plenty for the needs of the week. At the end of the week they have spent 75 cents and throw the rest away. Maybe they didn't sell a single Baja - who knows. Who cares? It seems to me that 75 cents a week is a pittance to be sure that the customers who do want the Baja are happy. If the management disagrees, why not just take it off the menu altogether? Photobucket The point is it will not bring them anywhere close to financial ruin to just get the cilantro! Nor would it to add a note to the menu. False advertising! Photobucket

I don't exactly do boycotts, but I certainly do choose where to spend my money and time. I don't care for Quiznos for several reasons. They are too expensive for my budget, for food and atmosphere (I could go to Olive Garden for what I spent on that lunch). Their food isn't that great IMO (good, but not great). If I'm looking for a sandwich I much prefer Subway, and even without the current $5 footlong it's a better price. So I won't be back to Quiznos unless I am with someone who is either buying or insists on eating there.

Imagine, this entry could have been avoided if they had simply put a note on the sign - or just told me they were out of cilantro. How hard is it to just sell what you advertise? How hard is it to just advertise only what you will sell? Photobucket

A had a good question as we ate. "What if they decided they didn't want to buy any more ham? Would it be OK to just leave it off the sandwich and not say anything, and then treat the customers like idiots for asking?" Yeah, I know it's an extreme example....or is it? Photobucket