WHEN 300,000 Giant Eagle Advantage Card holders received automated telephone calls telling them to check their fridge, it wasn't a variation on the childhood prank, "Is your refrigerator running?" It was an attempt by the chain to make sure that customers who had purchased frozen hash brown potatoes were notified that some products were tainted with a bacterium that can cause a potentially serious infection. More retailers have the capacity to track purchases through their loyalty-card programs, which has set off concerns about how the stores use the data. But when it comes to informing the public about problems with their purchases, most customers should appreciate the call. Further proof that loyalty is a two-way street.
INFORMING PEOPLE about a different kind of street, one that's an obvious danger, isn't enough if they won't use common sense. Rialto Street, which climbs Troy Hill from Route 28, is a steep incline with a stunning vista, but it isn't safe when coated with ice and snow. The city tried to block access with wooden sawhorses during bad weather, but Council President Darlene Harris said audacious drivers kept moving them. Now, jersey barriers are in place at the top and bottom of Rialto, and they won't go away until March. The drivers wouldn't learn, so now it takes concrete barriers to keep risk-takers off the road.
ONE OF THE BEST ways to reduce the risk of illness is to stop smoking. Today is the start of Determined to Quit week, set by Gov. Ed Rendell to raise awareness of the resources available to help people quit. The state Health Department will provide free nicotine patches to help Pennsylvanians. The kits are available while supplies last by calling the PA Free Quitline at 800-784-8669. In order to get the four-week supply, participants must agree to enroll in an online Quit coaching program and set a date for that last cigarette. C'mon, commit -- and your improved health will be an advantage to you and the rest of society.