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Motorcycle helmets bought from online platforms had counterfeit safety certifications, test finds

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Experts are warning consumers to think carefully before purchasing safety equipment online, especially when it comes to protecting their heads.

A CBC Marketplace investigation has found that some motorcycle helmets purchased on popular websites would crack and fall apart in a crash — and that the safety certifications on them are counterfeit.

Marketplace purchased helmets for sale on Amazon, eBay and Walmart’s marketplace advertised as U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) certified. Manufacturers, who are responsible for conducting testing, include the letters “DOT” on the back of a helmet to indicate the helmet has met or exceeded the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. It’s one of the three required safety certifications for motorcycle helmets in Canada.

But despite advertising that the helmets were safety certified, Marketplace found that each helmet failed portions of the safety standard, which, according to experts, means the DOT certifications were counterfeit.

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Chris Withnall, senior engineer with Biokinetics lab in Ottawa, which tested the helmets, said it can be “a matter of life and death.”

“A helmet might look like a motorcycle helmet, but it might not actually behave like a motorcycle helmet when you need it most,” he said.

This helmet, purchased from a third-party seller on Walmart.ca, failed to prevent a striker from contacting a testing headform. (Southern Impact Research Centre)

After Marketplace told Amazon, eBay and Walmart about the helmets’ counterfeit safety certifications, all platforms removed the listings the show had identified.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for eBay wrote that it invests millions of dollars into keeping its platform safe. A spokesperson for Amazon wrote that its partners are “contractually obligated to ensure that their products comply with all applicable laws and Amazon policies,” and it urged concerned consumers to contact its customer service team. A spokesperson for Walmart wrote that the sellers are responsible for “ensuring their products meet all legal and regulatory requirements.”

Marketplace also asked the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to respond to the investigation. In an email, the agency wrote that it relies on a self-certification process and will sometimes conduct random tests on some helmets, but it does take feedback and complaints from consumers into account. It also said it will recall helmets if necessary and acknowledged there are retailers that use fake DOT labels.

When shopping for helmets, Milan Uzelac, a senior motorcycle instructor with the Rider Training Institute, urges riders to stick with reputable brands and try helmets on in-person.

“If and when things happen, you want to be confident that the helmet you’re wearing is going to protect you,” he said.

Watch the full Marketplace investigation to see exactly how each helmet failed the testing, and for tips on red flags to look for when shopping for helmets.

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name – Global News

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name  Global NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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'Not telling us the truth': NSP customers complain utility isn't transparent about outages – CBC.ca

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‘Not telling us the truth’: NSP customers complain utility isn’t transparent about outages  CBC.caView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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