Starwatch consumer

USDA figures the price of healthy meals

Updated: 2013-05-02T20:52:19Z

Healthy meals

The cost of feeding a family of four a healthy diet can run from $146 to $289 a week, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s based on preparing all meals and snacks at home for a couple with two school-age children. It doesn’t include dollar deals at fast-food restaurants or splurges at pricey restaurants.

Spring swoon

The average U.S. rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low this week and the rate on the 30-year fixed loan declined.

Cheaper mortgages have encouraged more homebuying and refinancing.

The average rate for the 15-year loan slipped to 2.56 percent from 2.61 percent last week. The rate on the 30-year mortgage declined to 3.35 percent from 3.40 percent.

Five-year high

Consumer sentiment climbed last week to its highest level in more than five years as Americans felt the most upbeat about spending since before the recession began.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index improved to minus 28.9 in the week ending April 28, its highest since January 2008, from minus 29.9 a week earlier.

Obamacare suit

Opponents of the Obama administration’s health care overhaul have sued the U.S. over an Internal Revenue Service rule that extends tax subsidies to individuals in states that declined to set up insurance exchanges authorized under the law.

The individual subsidies by law were supposed to be available only in states that had agreed to set up insurance exchanges as clearinghouses for the purchase of medical coverage, according to a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Washington. By providing the subsidies in the 33 states that declined to set up exchanges, the health care overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act, makes insurance “less unaffordable,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed by seven individuals and businesses from seven states that have opted not to set up their own insurance exchanges.

Is it safe?

It’s a chemical that has been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, from the body wash in your bathroom shower to the knives on your kitchen counter to the bedding in your baby's bassinet. But federal health regulators are just now deciding whether triclosan — the germ-killing ingredient found in an estimated 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S. — is ineffective or, worse, harmful.

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to deliver a review this year of whether triclosan is safe. The ruling, which will determine whether triclosan continues to be used in household cleaners, could have implications for a $1 billion industry that includes hundreds of anti-bacterial products from toothpaste to toys.

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