Charcoal tricks and Halloween treats: CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Newsletter: Consumer and health news you need from the week

It's that time of the year again. Over the weekend, many party revellers dressed up in costumes and families took their kids out to trick or treat. (Behrouz/AFP/Getty Images)

Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Activated charcoal: Yay or nay? 

Promises range from a whiter, brighter smile, to a cleaner, healthier mouth. But can activated charcoal really live up to those claims? On our latest episode of Buzzkill, we discovered that the product might do more harm than good.

As brushing with activated charcoal takes social media by storm, Marketplace investigates advertising claims and the safety of the products. (Jonathan Stainton/CBC)

Gift card scamming is big business

Victims and experts are putting out a warning about gift card scammers. Durham police Det. Doris Carriere says there are countless ways to steal card balances, including something called card cloning. All it takes is a card-copying machine — easily available online and relatively cheap — and a stack of blank cards.

Anand Pavamani, 43, says he and his wife were given a gift card as a wedding present. But when they went shopping, they found the balance had already been drained. (Shannon Martin/CBC News)

The real story behind Halloween candy tampering

Every year, reports of trick-or-treaters falling victim to tampered Halloween candy make headlines across the country, confirming concerned parents' worst fears. But how many children have actually been seriously injured or died as a result? The answer, given the available data on the topic, seems to be not a single one.

Experts say that cases of Halloween candy tampering are urban legends, but there have been some serious cases. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Complaints mount after Amazon sends food that's expired or past its best-before date

The retailer has said the problems, which included salad dressing more than four months past its best-before date, and infant formula that expired months before it arrived, have been fixed. But not all complainants are satisfied with the company's response.

A review by an customer for protein bars that appear to have a best-before date that passed close to a year before the order arrived. (

We want to hear from you!

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What else is going on?

Apple TV Plus promises star-studded content, but can it compete in the streaming wars? The big question is how many people who already subscribe to services like Netflix and Crave TV are willing to pay for one more.

Smartphones and other distractions can be more deadly than impaired driving, data suggests. Canadians appear to have a blind spot when it comes to distracted driving. They are convinced everyone else is guilty of using their smartphone while behind the wheel, but when they do it themselves, it doesn't count.

Harmful air pollution 'definitely too high for the public' near city roads, study suggests. The study was motivated by an earlier discovery that nearly 30 per cent of Canadians, including about half of Toronto's residents, live within 250 metres of a major roadway.

Pot edibles will soon be legal to buy in Canada, but this woman will still make her own. Here's why. Health Canada has capped the amount of THC allowed in food and drinks to 10 milligrams — a restriction Patsy Copus said wouldn't meet the needs of some users.

The latest in recalls

  • These children's books have been recalled because they might contain mould.
  • These John Deere tractors have been recalled due to a possible injury hazard.
  • These Halloween light-up masks have been recalled due to a potential burn hazard.
  • This infant formula has been recalled due to Cronobacter contamination.
  • This kale blend has been recalled due to possible Listeria contamination.
  • These headlamps have been recalled due to a risk of an overheating battery.

Are expensive shoes really worth it? Testing Adidas, Nike and Under Armour

I'm a part of a basketball family. If we're not watching my niece and nephew play with their competitive travel teams, we're watching an NBA game on television. So it was pretty special for me to be a part of this Marketplace first.    With basketball exploding in Canada thanks to the world champion Raptors, the timing couldn't be better for us to test out basketball shoes to see if expensive kicks live up to the hype. Can we really put a price on performance?

We sent 11 pairs of basketball shoes from Nike, Adidas and Under Armour to a lab in Calgary. The shoes ranged in price from $80 to $240 and some of them are endorsed and worn by big NBA stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry. 

After days of testing, we revealed the results to two basketball families and let me tell you, their reactions were priceless. And I think you'll be surprised too.

Catch up on this episode and others on CBC Gem.

— Asha Tomlinson and the Marketplace team


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