Gerber Products Co., which has complained that isolated reports of glass pieces in its baby food have turned into a "media event," has launched its own television and mail campaign to bolster consumer confidence in its products.
"Gerber . . . is extremely concerned about news reports you may have heard," says Gerber President Leo Goulet, in a commercial that is airing during prime time on the three major TV networks this week. "Federal and state governmental units inspect our plants and our baby-food jars at grocery stores, and I assure you that Gerber baby foods meet, or exceed, every standard of safety the government or our industry ever set."
Neither the TV commercial nor a similar mailing mentions the word "glass," but a Gerber spokesman said the advertisements are intended to reassure consumers who may have heard of the glass reports that have surfaced in the past three weeks, and that led Maryland officials to temporarily ban the sale of Gerber's strained peaches.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it sees no problem with Gerber products and no need for a recall. FDA has received 393 complaints from consumers who claimed to have found glass in jars of Gerber baby food, and has found glass in 89 jars opened by consumers. The agency, however, has found "harmless" specks of glass in 13 of more than 50,000 previously unopened jars removed from warehouses and store shelves, a spokesman said.
Gerber, the nation's largest producer of baby food, does not yet know how its sales have been affected by the glass reports, but company officials think "consumer confidence had to have been eroded" in some areas, said Steven Poole, a company spokesman.
Now that Maryland has lifted its ban, and media interest in the reports has diminished, the company now "can go about reassuring those consumers who may need reassuring," Poole said.