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More Glass Reported Found in Gerber Baby Food

February 21, 1986 GMT

Undated (AP) _ Despite reports of glass fragments in Gerber baby food jars from at least eight states, company and federal officials maintain the incidents are ″isolated cases″ among more than a billion jars produced annually.

″There are countless numbers of these products distributed all over the world, and to have four or five cases be symptomatic of a flaw running throughout the industry would be a little difficult to justify,″ Emil Corwin, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesman in Washington, said Thursday.

Glass fragments had been confirmed in two jars of baby food in Georgia, but may have gotten there innocently, he said. The agency was awaiting results of laboratory tests on other samples from Georgia and Florida suspected of containing glass.

Glass also was reported found by parents feeding infants in Nebraska and Washington state, and other states reporting similar cases were Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee and New York.

″The assumption is at this point, these problems arose in transit, during shipment of the stuff - the boxes were dropped here or there or something happened in the packing, unpacking and putting on the shelves, or even during bagging in the supermarket,″ Corwin said.

Jars broken in transit can leave fragments clinging to the outside of other jars that can be sucked into the intact jar when its vacuum seal is broken, Corwin said.

The FDA is advising consumers against buying glass containers with sticky outsides or food stains on the label that could indicate a broken jar in the shipping case, he said, adding that consumers also should listen carefully for any grating sound when opening a glass jar.

Corwin said the FDA had followed up on nine complaints in four states, but found glass only in one of the Georgia incidents, where fragments were found in two of three jars turned in by a consumer.

The jars contained different foods, he said, and checks of other samples from those lots failed to disclose any glass fragments.

Corwin said recent investigations of Gerber’s home plant in Fremont, Mich., and three others found ″good, state-of-the-art manufacturing systems in place.″ The plants are being revisited in light of the recent reports, he added.

Since midweek, stores and supermarket chains in Georgia, Tennessee and New York state have removed Gerber baby food jars from their shelves.

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A Gerber spokesman said Thursday that the incidents were isolated.

″We’re investigating each incident on an individual basis. Our quality control people are taking a look at the evidence. As a matter of fact the FDA feels these are isolated cases, also,″ said Steve Poole, a spokesman for Gerber Products.

″In some cases it’s proven to be case breakage. In other cases it’s proven to be an inaccurate or an incomplete or, possibly, false report,″ he said.

Gerber last recalled of 550,000 jars of apple-plum and apple-cherry juices in October 1984, after glass fragments were found inside some of the containers bought in Rhode Island.

One of the world’s largest baby food makers, Gerber produces more than 1 billion jars a year.