Health and Money Talk
A Little Food for Thought

A short time ago, Rolonda Watts and I were talking about the latest fashions on her radio show "The Ro Show" and the darnedest styles that people like to revive, although they should be dead and buried, never to be seen again.

For a moment during our conversation we reflected on shopping at the dollar store. I happened to be telling Ro about a new trend in bags called the "Market Bags". They're the ones that come in the red, white and blue stripe, usually with two handles and you could fit anything in the world in them and they would actually hold up (I think the names for them are Rice Bags). I joked that if you didn't want to pay $100 for the latest versions, you could save $99 dollars by picking up one at the dollar stores. That was not the fashionable option though.

Anyway, she and I got a good laugh out of that. We've all browsed through our local Family Tree, 99 Cent Depot, Family Dollar or Dollar Store, picking up little things for school parties, back to school items and kitchen supplies. Some have even admitted to buying their office party $10-grab-bag gifts there-lol.

Hey in this day and in the "you know who" age of high food, gas and health care prices, it would be great to save or in this case spend a buck or two on some much needed items, but it's important to remember along with those Big Discounts sometimes come Big Risks.

The fact is, some of these bargains end up not being smart shopping at all. Instead they have been found to be down right dangerous and ultimately very costly.
Unfortunately, most problem-prone dollar stores products are those that offer the biggest discounts. Take these five items for example:

1) Batteries
Most dollars store battery brands are made with carbon zinc-a far more inferior option than the ones you buy at the hardware or drugstore according to Tom Merritt, Executive Editor for electronics review site CNET2. Chances are you'll go through a pack of the dollar stores bought brand much sooner, negating your initial savings. Instead spend the money to purchase the alkaline batteries with less shelf time from another store.

2) Toothpaste
You might not give a second thought to what's in the tubes of toothpaste you're buying, but you should. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that many of the imported toothpastes typically found at dollar stores and other discount outlets contained the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG), most commonly used as a thickener in antifreeze (Ugh!). To date the agency has identified more than 20 hazardous brands, including several counterfeit tubes that look like Colgate.

Bye the way, Rita Chappelle, a spokeswoman for the FDA reports; repeated brushing with DEG can cause liver and kidney damage and other gastrointenstinal problems.

3) Electrical Products
Holiday lights and extension cords should never be purchased from dollar stores. The reason is: Often times in these cheaper made products the wiring is undersized (meaning more current goes through than the device can handle), according to Consumer Reports. They may have a substandard insulation. At best, they make for faulty products that short out very easily. At their worst, the cords can overheat, melt, shock you or even start a fire.

4) Kid's Jewelry
The problem with them is very similar to those experienced by many toy makers last year who were being questioned, even sued over sales of products which were found to contain lead.

Many of the dollar stores toys are believed to be unsafe. Especially items that contain metal. Basically, none of these products can be guaranteed safe. So although the necklaces and rings and other items, are easy and cheap for Halloween or birthday gift bags, they should be avoided for the safety of your child.

5) Vitamins
These vitamins can be dicey, says FDA spokesperson, Tod Marks, because the FDA considers multivitamins a dietary supplement, there's significantly less oversight when it comes to their composition and effects on the body than there is for prescription medications. In a 2004 analysis, Consumer Reports found that half of the dollar stores vitamin brands it studied contained less of the nutrients claimed on the label, or failed to dissolve properly when ingested. Funny enough there were no such findings in similar investigations of major brand names according to Marks.

While all of the claims mentioned were not made by myself, nor do I have any evidence to support them, it seems like common sense-101 to me and who knows better than us to follow our intuition.

Be Healthy and Blessed.