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  The Burger King restaurant chain has issued a recall of the plastic balls that hold Pokemon toys being sold with children's meals.

Burger King recalls Pokemon toys

Web posted December 29, 1999

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From Staff and Wire Reports

Just weeks ago, Burger King's promotional Pokeman toy was so hot so that restaurants were running out of them. Now the fast food chain is asking customers to bring them back.

The problem is that the plastic balls that hold the Pokemon toys could be dangerous to small children.

Consumers should take the toys away from children under the age of 3, Burger King said in a statement released Monday. The balls should be discarded or returned to a Burger King restaurant for a free small order of fries.

The voluntary recall stems from the death of a 13-month-old California girl who suffocated when half a ball covered her mouth and nose. 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, Burger King officials said.

Heike Smith, a manager at the Burger King at 3054 Washington Road, said no balls were returned to her store as of Tuesday afternoon. One woman, however, did call to ask what was being recalled, she said.

Some balls might be brought back when children find out they can get free fries for them, but she doubts the recall will stir much of a ruckus. Most of the toys went to older children, she said.

``I just have a feeling it's not going to be that big,'' she said.

Charles Nicolas, a spokesman at the Miami-based restaurant chain, said the balls ``may pose a suffocation hazard'' for young children. More than 25 million balls are included in the recall, he said.

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,'' Mr. 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.

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