Illustration of scissors cutting through a car's exhaust.
Illustration: John Ritter

Making Cars More Efficient

Drivers in the U.S. will save thousands of dollars, and we’ll all enjoy improved air quality, because in December the Environmental Protection Agency finalized more stringent emissions standards for new cars and light trucks.

CR was one of many groups urging the EPA to reestablish standards at the same level as those set in 2012, which were rolled back in 2020. We took the lead in providing data and analysis on the consumer costs and benefits of stronger rules, showing that they would save consumers an average of $2,400 over the life of each new car, starting in 2026.

We also objected to an earlier proposal, arguing that it included too many loopholes for automakers. We submitted over 25,000 petition signatures in support of the stronger rules and rallied CR members to testify at public hearings.

The final rule delivers almost all of what CR asked for, putting the U.S. on a path to a 60 percent reduction in new vehicle greenhouse emissions by 2030—and saving consumers more than $1 trillion in fuel and maintenance costs, even after accounting for higher initial technology costs, through 2050.

CR Update: Baby Sleepers

In April 2019 Fisher-Price recalled almost 5 million Rock ’n Play Sleepers, triggered in large part by a CR investigation that eventually uncovered nearly 100 infant deaths linked to the product. But records obtained by CR this year indicate that only about 8 percent of the recalled sleepers had been accounted for by the end of 2020. CR is now calling on Fisher-Price to redouble its efforts to get the sleepers out of homes. We’re also pushing for legislation that would require companies to devote more resources to recalls and improve how they notify the public about them.

Striving for Safer Food

What’s at stake: Roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Careful food handling by home cooks can help, but food producers and regulators must do more to minimize harmful bacteria in the U.S. food system.

How CR has your back: CR has worked long and hard to make the food you buy safer to eat. One of our tools is lab testing. In January, for example, CR found E. coli O157:H7 in a package of Kroger-branded ground beef purchased in late December in Seattle. The discovery, part of our larger, ongoing effort to test ground meat purchased across the nation, prompted a recall of 28,365 pounds of ground beef. No illnesses have been reported to date.

More broadly, we’re pushing to address regulatory shortcomings that put consumers at risk. One reason the recent beef recall was effective: In the 1990s the Department of Agriculture declared E. coli O157:H7 an adulterant—a status that triggers an immediate recall if the pathogen is found. By contrast, poultry processors can legally distribute their products even if they’re known to contain dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella. So CR is urging the USDA to establish a zero-tolerance policy for the most dangerous strains of salmonella.

What you can do: Follow best practices when handling meat and poultry at home. You can read about safety tips, and sign up to get CR’s food safety alerts via text message, at “8 Food Safety Mistakes You May Not Know You’re Making.”

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the May 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.