Burger King announces toy recall

Burger King is recalling Pokemon toys that were included in Burger King Kid's Meals because the balls pose a suffocation threat to infants and children under the age of 3.

This voluntary recall is the result of two infants who suffocated to death when half of the outer portion of the Pokeball covered their mouth and nose cutting off their air supply.

Kim Miller, spokeswoman for Burger King Corporation, said the initial recall was issued Dec. 27, although the toys were pulled from Burger King locations on Dec. 24.

Miller said the recall was expanded to include Big Kid's Meals on Dec. 31.

The recall only includes the Pokeballs but, Miller said Burger King has continued to distribute the Pokemon characters found inside the balls.

"The safety of our customers is of paramount concern to Burger King," she said.

Miller said Burger King has taken extensive measures to reach parents and educate them about the dangers of the Pokeball.

About 100,000 notices were sent to health-care providers and fliers were sent to sites frequented by Pokemon fans.

Advertisement are also running on the major networks as well as 20 national cable networks, Miller said.

"The idea is to reach as many moms as we can."

Miller said 70 percent of parents in the 18-49 age bracket should be reached by the end of the week.

Norm LaBarge, owner of Norm's Hobby, 600 S. Mission St., sells the Pokemon collector card game but not the Pokeball or other collectibles.

"We never dealt with them," said LaBarge, "I'm just surprised they passed safety inspection."

Ellen Mogg, assistant manager at Burger King, 5014 Pickard St., said she has not received complaints from parents about the balls being a hazard.

"I think they were pretty prompt in recalling them," Mogg said.

Emil Sacco, owner of the Mount Pleasant Burger Kings (1912 S. Mission St. and 2065 E. Remus Road), and a manager of the Pickard Street Burger King declined to comment.

Miller said Burger King abides by Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines but there are no regulations or testing for suffocation.

"We go through a rigorous process to ensure we meet or exceed those guidelines," Miller said.

Kathy Jones, Blanchard resident, said parents need to be careful of the toys that get into their children's hands.

"It could have been any other toy they could have choked on possibly," Jones said.

"They should have made it so that it stayed together with hinges," said Nate Jones, 11-year-old Blanchard resident.

"It's all right to come up with a product, but I think they should have done more studies on health issues. It's good that they immediately recalled (them) but that's like shutting the door after the horses are out," said Jim Phelps, Riverdale resident.

"The parents have to take some responsibility. You just don't hand a child something brand new without checking it out," he said.