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OHIO Officials, baby food company warn parents of ongoing fraud



Published: Sat, September 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The baby food company cautioned parents against mailing personal information about their children.

A bogus handout that promises $500 to children who ate Gerber baby food from 1985 to 1997 may be circulating in Ohio. Parents should ignore it, officials said.

A flier titled "Gerber Baby Food Settlement" inaccurately claims that children are entitled to a $500 savings bond from General Foods if they ate Gerber baby food during those years because the food was falsely advertised as preservative-free.

In Ohio, the attorney general's office has received a spattering of phone calls questioning the validity of the claim in the past couple weeks, said spokesman Bret Crow. The office last received a formal complaint about the hoax in 1999, he said.

Seeks information: Parents are urged by the handout to send a copy of the child's birth certificate and social security card and address and telephone number to "General Foods Distribution" at a post office box in Minneapolis.

Diane Young of Gerber Products Co. said the claim is a fraud that has been circulating throughout the country for several years. Gerber has never requested birth records and cautions parents against mailing personal information about their children, according to a memo from the company.

The company works with the Minneapolis postal authorities to close post office boxes connected to the rumors. Letters sent to the post office boxes are returned to the sender.

Further, Gerber, a Fremont, Mich., company, is not associated with General Foods, Young said.

Consumers with concerns can contact the attorney general's office at (800) 282-0515 or Gerber at (800)4-GERBER or www.gerber.com.




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