Consumer Reports January 2022

Ratings, recommendations, reliability reports, safety and price comparisons from the world’s largest consumer testing center. Helps consumers make better choices for everything from cars to cell phone service. The only magazine of its kind: Expert, independent, nonprofit. 100% unbiased. Consumer Reports accepts no outside advertising.

United States
Consumer Reports, Inc.
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
making our food safer

THE SEASON of resolutions is upon us, and with it comes plenty of nutrition advice, some of it smart, and some not so much. But not even the soundest advice will help if the food we believe to be healthy isn’t safe to eat—and unfortunately, we have a significant food safety p roblem in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that foodborne illnesses cause 1 in 6 Americans to get sick every year, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. In just the past few months, we’ve seen large recalls of ground turkey, kale, and onions, among other products. Congress released a worrisome report in September on dangerous heavy metals in food for babies and toddlers. And a recent CR report warned that about one-third of the…

3 min
building a better world, together

The Problem With Baby Food Some baby foods contain troubling levels of heavy metals such as arsenic and lead. Early exposure to these metals has been linked to lower IQs, behavior problems, and other health issues. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to limit the levels of inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. But two 2021 reports by Congress reveal that several companies have allowed products with alarming levels of heavy metals to remain on the market. Among the findings: In 2018 Walmart raised its own allowable limit on inorganic arsenic, without explanation, from 23 parts per billion to 100. That’s why CR is now urging executives at baby food companies to pause the sale of infant rice cereals until better tests and stronger standards for inorganic arsenic are in…

6 min
your feedback

WE WHO LIVE IN more rural areas of the country are pleased to have Dollar General stores “popping up” in a lot of the small communities. Though not a replacement for a trip to the larger grocery/department store, they do make it very easy to pop in and grab some “essentials.” In the part of Pennsylvania where I live, we are seeing new dollar stores showing up in small towns, and most of the folks I know appreciate them. —John Weaver, Flinton, PA Go to to share your comments for publication. I READ WITH INTEREST your article about dollar stores. Our small community of Tionesta, Pa., has long struggled with trying to keep a grocery store in town, and over the years we’ve had a number of different grocery stores come and…

1 min
how much does thread count matter when buying sheets?

SURPRISINGLY, NOT MUCH. Our testers have found that a higher thread count (the number of vertical and horizontal threads that go into each square inch of material) doesn’t indicate better durability, fit, or softness. For example, one of our top-rated sheet sets, the Matouk Sierra above, has a claimed thread count of 350, and it significantly outperformed a 1,000-thread-count Wamsutta Dream Zone sheet set, which sits near the bottom of our ratings. Instead, focus on the material the sheets are made of. Our testers have noticed that cotton sheets tend to shrink less in the wash than bamboo viscose ones. Some people find that cotton also breathes better than synthetics such as polyester.…

3 min
what we’re testing in our labs …

Multi-Cookers for $150 or Less WE TESTED: 15 models WE TEST FOR: How well a model can cook rice, steam vegetables, pressure-cook ribs, slow-cook beef stew, and more. ABOUT THE SCORES: Median: 74 Range: 67-80 GREAT COOKER WITH VERSATILE ACCESSORIES Instant Pot Max 6-Quart $150 80 OVERALL SCORE NONSTICK INTERIOR & SUPER FOR STEAMING VEGGIES Crock-Pot Express 6-Quart Oval $90 78 OVERALL SCORE HOT PRICE & A GOOD SIZE FOR SMALLER KITCHENS Gourmia Express Pot GPC965 Digital Multi-Functional (6-Quart) $70 75 OVERALL SCORE Sheets WE TESTED: 6 sets WE TEST FOR: How well sheets fit a queen-size bed, their softness and resistance to tears, and how much they shrink in the wash and stay wrinkle-free after drying. ABOUT THE SCORES: Median: 51 Range: 25-79 BEST-FITTING Matouk Sierra $336 79 OVERALL SCORE MOST DURABLE L.L.Bean Cotton Percale (280 TC) $150 74 OVERALL SCORE SOFTER FEEL Brooklinen Luxe Core $175 61 OVERALL SCORE Space Heaters WE TESTED: 42 small models WE TEST FOR: How quickly it warms a person sitting 4.5…

3 min
in winter weather, is it safest to keep my four-wheel drive on all the time?

FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE delivers power to each wheel and increases traction during acceleration and for off-road driving situations, such as in snow or mud, or on steep inclines. Most new SUVs have either a permanent 4WD system, which means 4WD is always engaged, or an automatic 4WD mode, which is a setting you may need to turn on. (Check your manual to see which type you have.) If you have automatic 4WD, it’s both smart and safe to turn it on and leave it on indefinitely; that way, your vehicle will automatically switch into 4WD when it senses slippery conditions, and back out when it’s no longer needed. On some vehicles, however, you may need to select or manually shift into 4WD each time you want to engage it. This type of…