General Mills Stops Sales Of Cheerios With "Powerball" Premium

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
September 24, 1987  
Release # 87-056
 

General Mills Stops Sales Of Cheerios With "Powerball" Premium

WASHINGTON, DC -- In conjunction with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, General Mills is warning parents who purchased 15 and 20 ounce size boxes of Cheerios containing a free "Powerball' premium, to keep the premium away from children approximately three years of age or under, or to discard it. General Mills has also voluntarily halted shipments and is taking immediate steps to remove packages containing the "Powerball" from wholesale and retail channels.

General Mills said the ball was reportedly involved in the accidental choking death of a one-year-old child. Four other incidents involving balls in the mouths of young children that did not result in injury were also reported to the firm.

Approximately ten million boxes of cereal with the "Powerball" have been sold since May 1987. Another estimated five million boxes are currently either on retail shelves or in the control of General Mills or its distributors.

General Mills reports that the ball, which is similar in size and other characteristics to balls sold in retail outlets for many years, is non-toxic and comes sealed in a heavy plastic wrapper. The ball meets all Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations and was designed by the Company to exceed the minimum size requirements in the Commission regulations for toys intended for children under three years of age. The ball was thoroughly tested by independent laboratories prior to acceptance by General Mills as a premium, according to the firm.

The company and Commission caution parents that children of approximately three years of age or under may tend to place small objects like the "Powerball" into their mouths. They urge parents to keep all such items away from small children. General Mills is initiating a consumer education campaign through advertisements and cereal box inserts to educate consumers about this risk. Cheerios cereal continues to be available in packages not containing the "Powerball."

Consumers with questions may contact General Mills at l-800-328-1144 from 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. central daylight time on weekdays.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds consumers that any death or injury associated with any consumer product can be reported by calling the Commission's toll-free hotline at l-800-638-CPSC. The Commission's teletypewriter number for the hearing impaired is (301) 595-7054. For further information, the media may call R.C. Shulstad of General Mills at 612-540-3745.