Gov. Harry Hughes ordered Maryland stores to remove Gerber strained peaches from their shelves yesterday because glass fragments were found in two jars of the baby food. Maryland officials have also advised against consuming any Gerber strained fruit products.
Gerber officials promptly threatened to sue over Hughes' action and, at the same time, the Food and Drug Administration said it had tested 6,000 jars of Gerber baby food and had found no glass particles in unopened containers it had checked.
Reports of glass in baby food have surfaced in 10 states, including Maryland, and their were additional reports yesterday, but company and federal officials say all are isolated cases among more than a billion jars produced annually by Gerber Products Co.
Gerber officials said Hughes' order was "unwarranted, irresponsible and unnecessarily frightens young mothers."
"Gov. Hughes may think his precipitious move protects the citizens of Maryland," said Gerber quality control chief Ronald Lovasz. "His action is totally unwarranted and is not based upon sound scientific procedures and fact."
Gerber said said it would take legal action against Hughes' intervention and asked the nation's food processing industry to join the action.
FDA spokesman Lamar Furr in Atlanta said, "We have found no glass in any of the unopened jars of Gerber baby food that were from the same lot numbers of jars that reportedly contained glass slivers. We have several thousand people working around the clock to check stocks of Gerber baby food for glass, and so far we have found nothing."
Additional reports of parents finding glass fragments in Gerber products yesterday came from Florida and Rhode Island.
Maryland Health Department spokeswoman Lynn Doyle said Hughes' decision followed five reports of consumers finding what appeared to be glass in Gerber peaches and other strained fruits.
Doyle said health officials found glass in two opened containers of strained peaches, but random testing on nearly 100 unopened jars indicated no foreign matter.