A Message From Shar Taylor

Shar Taylor
Vice President, Development

Dear Donor,

Welcome to a refreshed Behind-the-Scenes newsletter from Consumer Reports. You may have noticed a few changes to this issue. As a supporter, you are an integral part of CR’s success, and we wanted to tell you more about the difference you make in the safety and wellbeing of families across the nation. And it’s impressive!

Our fiscal year just ended on May 31, and, over the year, a brand of infant car seats was improved, potentially dangerous cooking ranges were pulled off the market, and more fast-food restaurants pledged to serve antibiotics-free meat, to name just a few wins you made happen. I hope you enjoy reading about the important work you make possible as a donor.

Thank you for being a part of the CR family.


P.S. If you want to tell us what you would like to see in this newsletter for donors, please send us an email at development@cr.consumer.org.

Top Tests for a Safe and Spectacular Summer

Ah, summer. A time for cookouts. Camping. Bike rides to the beach. As you know, we buy every product we test (2,094 new models last fiscal year!). Your valued contributions help cover the cost of purchasing those items as well as staff time and the labs to make it possible for us to evaluate and rate products. Below are just some of summer’s most essential products we bought and tested. Be prepared and have fun!

  • When enjoying a summer evening in the backyard with friends and family, uninvited guests can be annoying and sometimes dangerous. We’ve tested 16 insect repellents to help you and your loved ones stay safe from mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus. [More here]
  • Want to throw a barbecue for the neighbors this weekend, but think you may need the biggest, fanciest grill on the market? After testing 172 gas grills, we can tell you . . . performance isn’t tied to size or price. Our guide to gas grills can help you plan for that summer cookout of your dreams. [More here]
  • Be sure not to take risks with a bike helmet that doesn’t fit well. A properly fitted helmet is the single most effective way to save a life and prevent head injury in a bicycle accident. Our team tested 55 bike helmets across all price points so you and your loved ones can choose the best option for you. [More here]

Supporting What's True: Joe Thanhauser

Many of you participated in our matching gift campaigns last year. Thank you! We recently got in touch with one of our supporters who offered a matching gift to ask what motivated him.

Joe Thanhauser celebrating the 100th episode of Talking Cars. Shown front row, far right.

Joseph Thanhauser, chairman and founder of Manhattan-based Byrnam Wood commercial real estate firm, and Gordon Ogden, his principal business partner, have together generously supported CR over the past three years with matching gifts to inspire others to donate. Thanks to their support, and the generosity of President's Circle members like you, these campaigns brought in more than $1.3 million last year!

Here's what Joe told us.

I support Consumer Reports because it's an absolutely independent, doggedly objective test lab and statistical gathering organization. I don't think there's anything else like it — anywhere.

My parents subscribed to the magazine, so I have been reading Consumer Reports since the 1960s. Even as a child, I was fascinated with technology and information and read all of the comparative reports in the back pages. As an adult, I returned to Consumer Reports every time I bought a new car — that's over 40 years of car purchases. And when my two daughters grew old enough to drive, Consumer Reports helped me find the safest cars for them.

I've relied on Consumer Reports so much over the years. I'm 68 years old, but I still like my toys and trust CR to give me great product information. But it's their principles that impress me most of all. I've seen fads come and go, and despite them all, CR is steadfast. Whether in 1963 or 2017, they stay true to their values, their impartiality, and to their consumers.

I've visited the CR test site and watched how the experts demonstrate how they test food, TVs, cameras, even elevator technology. Every person I met at CR was very passionate about his or her work. My business partner, Gordon Ogden, joined me at the CR test track and we were lucky enough to be passengers with CR's trained automobile drivers going really fast. Gordon was so inspired by what he experienced at the test center and what I'd told him about CR that he decided to support them as well. And Gordon has young children at home and saw the added value to his family's health and safety. We've been jointly underwriting matching gift opportunities for several years now.

Gordon and I select the causes we support very carefully. Consumer Reports has a unique combination of independence, expertise, uncompromising moral commitment, and history that puts them on that short list. Consumer Reports is the only organization connecting the public to this information and they take great care with that responsibility. Every consumer is a beneficiary of the work they do; they deserve all of our enthusiastic support.

CR's Work on Car Insurance Prompts Action

Your support has made us a trusted source. So when we shine a light on unfair practices, it can result in swift action. You may have read the recent analysis by Consumer Reports and our partner ProPublica, a nonprofit journalism organization, which uncovered troubling findings. Some insurers were charging higher car insurance rates in some minority neighborhoods than in white ones with similar levels of risk. After publishing our report last month, we wrote to CA's insurance commissioner, who has now opened an investigation into potential discrimination in the state's car insurance market.

Q&A: Jim Rogers, Director of Food Safety Testing

Consumer Reports was thrilled to welcome Jim Rogers who joined the team a few months ago as the Director of Food Safety Testing. Jim brings years of experience to the job. Before coming to CR, he worked in federal government offices including the Food Safety Inspection Service and the Chief Scientist's Office. We sat down with Jim to talk about his new role at CR and how he plans to make food safer for all consumers.

What initially attracted you to Consumer Reports?

Consumer Reports occupies a unique position because we provide information to consumers that they aren't getting anywhere else. That's important for the consumer buying decisions and it's also important for advocacy. Plus, Consumer Reports is not just telling you whether something is safe or unsafe, we're giving you the handling and preparation tips that you can use in your own kitchen.

Are there any stories or statistics that you learned in your previous food safety positions that would surprise most people?

Oh, sure. I think most people would be surprised at how little testing is actually done. For example, $0.20 of every dollar is spent on imported food, but only around 2% of imported food is being tested for safety. And some people would be surprised by food labeling: Any food item can be labeled organic, but only foods with the USDA Organic label are the ones you can trust to be verified.

As the new director, I'm working with the teams at Consumer Reports to develop a strategy for the next five years that will allow us to test the most risky foods as quickly as possible. We're still identifying exactly which ones we'll focus on, but I'd like to work on some issues like municipal water safety and raw milk.

What makes you excited to go to work in the morning?

The people I work with are all incredibly committed to the mission. We're driven not just to get information to consumers so they can shop and cook smarter, but also so they can use their voices to influence policies and regulations. Consumer advocacy is a really important part of the agenda here at CR.

Has food testing affected the way you think about what you eat?

Yes. My family and I practice all the safe food-handling and preparation recommendations that we can, in order to avoid as many issues as possible.

What's your favorite food at the moment?

Smoked barbecue brisket with sweet honey BBQ sauce, and all the classic sides!

Your support makes it possible for CR to educate the public about issues of the day. Thank you! Check out just a few of our recent articles:

Your Car Could Be the Next Ransomware Target
Liquid Laundry Detergent Pods Pose Lethal Risk for Adults With Dementia
Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Testosterone?