Asbestos threat causes snack recall

January 28, 1998

SCHILLER PARK, Ill. (AP) - HoHo's, Twinkies and more than a dozen other types of snacks were recalled in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and 18 other states because a bakery might have been contaminated by asbestos.

Managers at several Tri-State area food markets said Tuesday they were unaware of the recall.

Interstate Brands Corp. said Tuesday it recalled the snacks and closed its plant in this Chicago suburb because of a potential threat from asbestos fibers in insulation removed from a boiler Jan. 11.

State inspectors had planned to close the plant Monday night when it was shut down voluntarily.

''We are taking this extremely seriously and want to make sure that the public knows about it, and it is taken from the shelf immediately,'' said Tom Schafer, a spokesman for the state health department.

The recall includes 13 Hostess products and Dolly Madison cupcakes, almost all of which have expiration dates ranging from Jan. 22 through Feb. 6.


The HoHo's under recall have expiration dates ranging from Jan. 29 to Feb. 13.

The products can be returned to the place they were purchased for a refund.

The food has a ''57'' code as part of the expiration date on the package, the company said.

Ray Sutton, general counsel for Interstate Brands, said workers removing the insulation didn't realize it contained asbestos. They were not properly licensed or protected and did not follow procedures that would have protected the plant's ventilation system, Schafer said.

Company employees hauled the asbestos through an area where the food is made and discarded it in a trash bin, Schafer said. Samples taken from the floor of the boiler room showed ''very high levels'' of asbestos, he said.

Asbestos, once widely used in insulation because it is fireproof, is known to cause cancer and other health problems when inhaled. Not much is known about the health risks of eating food contaminated with asbestos, Schafer said. But he said studies have linked repeated consumption to cancer in the esophagus and the gastrointestinal tract.

Interstate Brands, based in Kansas City, Mo., is the nation's largest wholesale baker.

''Number one, we don't think the product got contaminated, and number two, if it did, we don't think that it will have any health effects on anyone,'' Sutton said. ''But as a safety precaution, we made a voluntary recall of the product.''

The brands involved are Dolly Madison Cupcakes and the following Hostess products: HoHo's, Twinkies, Light Twinkies, Cupcakes, Light Cup, Light Brownie, Chocolicious, Muffin-Oat Bran, Valentine, Hoppers, Dessert Cup, Fruit Pies and Honey Bun.

Schafer said the company told health officials that the states involved are: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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