Burger King recalling Pokemon toys' containers
By Associated Press, 12/28/99
MIAMI -- Burger King recalled millions of plastic balls that hold Pokemon toys given away in children's meals following the death of a 13-month-old California girl, who suffocated when half a ball covered her mouth and nose.
The balls used to pack several types of Pokemon toys measure from 2 inches to 3 inches in diameter and can be opened by pulling their two halves apart.
In a statement Monday, Burger King said consumers should take the balls away from children under the age of 3. The balls should be discarded or returned to a Burger King restaurant for a free small order of fries.
Charles Nicolas, a spokesman at the Miami-based restaurant chain, said the balls "may pose a suffocation hazard" for children under 3. More than 25 million balls are included in the recall, he said.
The voluntary recall follows the Dec. 11 death of a 13-month-old Sonora, Calif., girl, who was found in her playpen with half a ball over her nose and mouth. The Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department issued a warning about the balls following the death of the girl, whose name was not released.
Burger King officials said an 18-month-old Kansas girl also reportedly had a half-ball stuck over her face, but her father pulled it off before she was injured.
The Pokeman toys and balls contain no warning. The packaging described them as "safety tested and recommended for all ages."
The toy and container had met all U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements and all international safety standards, the company had said earlier.
"They've passed all choke tests," Nicolas said. "What's at issue is when the ball covers both the mouth and the nose."
It was the first time any toy in a Burger King child's meal had been blamed for a death, the company said.
Burger King also had distribution problems with the popular giveaway. Ten days into the eight-week promotion, Burger King North America president Paul Clayton ran full-page newspaper ads apologizing for shortages.
The headline on the ad was: "Why I am not the most popular parent in America."