The science behind 'buttergate'; Telecoms facing complaints for COVID charges: CBC's Marketplace cheat sheet

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

Consumer and health news you need from the week

Research associate Saeed Ghazani uses a texture analyzer to conduct a penetration test, determining the hardness of the butter samples. (Yanjun Li/CBC)

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

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What testing 17 butters told us about the science behind 'buttergate'

For weeks, social media has been swirling with anecdotes about butter that doesn't spread as easily as it once did. 

That led some food scientists to theorize that palmitic acid from palm oil had been added in greater quantities to cow feed to boost milk output and increase the fat content needed to make butter, in the face of what the dairy industry has described as unprecedented demand.

But as a joint investigation from Marketplace and The National reports, a lab test of 17 popular Ontario butter brands suggests a derivative of palm oil is not the sole cause of the unusually hard butter that some Canadians have been complaining about. Read more

What is making Canadian butter harder?

3 years ago
Duration 2:00
Featured VideoA lab test on Ontario butter samples found that palm oil derivatives in cattle feed aren’t the only factor contributing to firmness.

Rogers fines 91-year-old woman unable to return equipment due to lockdown

The family of a 91-year-old woman is outraged Rogers had demanded she pay hundreds of dollars for failing to return phone and internet equipment while her Ottawa long-term care home was under lockdown.

They cancelled those services for Joan Davis in early May after noticing her dementia was worsening and she was struggling to use them.

Her daughter, Lori Davis, says Rogers told the family a technician would pick up the equipment, but nobody showed up.

What did show up was a bill for the unreturned equipment — more than $450 which, by this month, had grown to almost $565. 

Lori is just one of about a dozen telco customers who contacted Go Public with complaints about Rogers and Bell charging penalties for situations brought on by COVID-19 that are out of customers' control — most dealing with financial hardship brought on by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Rogers reversed the charges, and is promising to review its policy after Go Public's inquiries. Read more

Provinces aren't using COVID Alert app properly or widely enough: report

Have you downloaded the COVID Alert app yet? A new report from a federal advisory council suggests it isn't as effective as it could be.

The report found that while the app has been downloaded more than 6.3 million times, only five per cent of those who have tested positive for coronavirus have been given the information required to register their results with the COVID Alert app.

Alberta, B.C., Nunavut and Yukon still haven't started using the app, either. Read more

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been one of the most prominent supporters of the COVID Alert app and frequently promotes its use during televised pandemic updates. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

What else is going on?

Wedding dresses never worn, pets surrendered: Kijiji sales show people's pandemic losses
'There's always a human story' behind what's for sale, online ad company says.

How pandemic bike lanes made some Canadian cities more accessible
Cycling advocates say temporary bike lanes should be made permanent.

For-profit care homes have higher COVID-19 death rates among Winnipeg nursing homes
Biggest for-profit company says death rates are not about profit or non-profit, but community spread.

One year after their mom's death, nursing home still demanding $1,800 for month she didn't spend there: family
Southbridge Care Homes says they "only billed for the time she was a resident of the home."

These Mór Series Tents were labeled as being fire retardant. They're not.
Consumers should immediately stop using the affected tents near any flame or other source of ignition. 

These 6-foot Lifetime seminar tables have been recalled due to an injury hazard 
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled tables and contact Lifetime Products for a free repair kit. Alternatively, Costco Canada members can return the recalled tables to a Costco warehouse for a full refund.

This week on Marketplace

We're back in India — tracking illicit call centres targeting Canadians with multiple scams. Here's something bonkers: we're told each call centre is stealing at least $70,000 a night! 

And those scammers have way more information about us — names, phone numbers, family details and much more — to sound way more legitimate. We know the truth, though, and we're looking at what Canada's big banks can do to help curtail the scammers' success.

We meet a man who took $27,100 out of his savings and line of credit, plus cash advances on his credit card. He's never done this before. And he accepts his responsibility — one that will affect him for the rest of his life — but he's asking if the banks owe their customers the courtesy of a warning.

We put that question to the big banks as we peel back one of the most prolific scams in Canada right now, where overseas schemers pose as bank investigators.

Plus, Canada has been hit by a number of romaine lettuce recalls. We set out to the U.S., where the majority of our leafy greens come from, to dig up why E. coli outbreaks keep happening.

Our investigation also brings us to one B.C. family whose lives have been forever changed by a contaminated salad.

-David Common, Asha Tomlinson and the Marketplace team

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