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Your Money : Kellogg Settles Flaming-Pop-Tart Suit

<i> Times Wire Services</i>

Kellogg Co. has settled a lawsuit involving a man who claimed that fire damaged a kitchen after a Pop-Tart he was toasting caught fire. Kellogg agreed to pay $2,400 in damages to Pioneer Mutual Insurance Co. of Marietta, Pa., to settle the suit brought against the food company last year. Pioneer Mutual sued Thomas Nangle of Springfield, Ohio, for allegedly causing $3,000 in damage to a home after his Pop-Tart ignited a fire. Nangle argued that Kellogg, which makes Pop-Tarts, should pay the damages. An attorney for the insurer said Pioneer Mutual agreed to settle for $2,600, with Kellogg paying $2,400 and Nangle paying $200. Before the settlement, Nangle’s attorney, Samuel Petroff, said he might contact syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry for help in the case. Barry had written in a column that he was able to ignite strawberry Pop-Tarts by putting them in a toaster and holding the lever down for about six minutes. Diane Dickey, spokeswoman for Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg, confirmed the settlement but declined to comment further. Leo Krebs, a Kellogg attorney in Dayton, Ohio, said the settlement was not an admission of responsibility by Kellogg and denied that concern about Barry’s possible involvement prompted its decision. “It was a nuisance settlement,” he said. “It would have cost that much just to get an expert.”

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A Step Beyond ‘Cheese’: Polaroid Corp. said it is introducing a talking instant camera that should reach U.S. retailers by March. “We’re aiming to get better smiles,” said Andrew York, marketing manager for new products at Polaroid. He noted that having people say “cheese” before being photographed makes a smile look forced and that a talking camera can make picture taking more fun and interesting. The camera will accept eight-second recordings of the user’s voice, television sound, radio or a selection of one of three pre-programmed messages, York said. The message can be changed for each photograph, he added. York said the talking version of the Onestep will cost $39.99, $10 more than Polaroid’s basic Onestep.

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Eddie Bauer to Pull Out of Burma: Outdoor clothing retailer Eddie Bauer Inc. said it will stop using Burmese factories to make its clothes because of growing opposition to U.S. companies doing business there. Shareholder and consumer activism has mushroomed in the past two years because of alleged human rights violations in the country. Two other clothing companies, Levi-Strauss & Co. and Liz Claiborne Inc., have pulled out of Burma. “We deemed that the political climate and growing opposition to trade in Burma posed a potential threat to our future manufacturing opportunities,” Seattle-based Eddie Bauer said. The company would not disclose how much of its clothing is made in Burma, but said it was only a “small percentage” of its business. The Burmese military government, which changed Burma’s name to Myanmar, has refused to relinquish control to the democratic opposition that won 82% of the vote in 1990. Human rights groups have reported that the military junta has murdered, raped and tortured Burmese and minorities, driving hundreds of thousands of refugees into neighboring Bangladesh and Thailand. PepsiCo Inc., Atlantic Richfield Co., Unocal Corp. and Texaco Inc. still do business or are currently negotiating to do business there.

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FTC to Ban Some Telemarketing Practices: The Federal Trade Commission plans to ban “deceptive, abusive telemarketing sales practices” and require telemarketers to fully disclose information to consumers. “At the beginning of each call, a telemarketer would have to state the caller’s first and last name, the name of the seller and the fact that it’s a sales call,” the FTC said in a statement. “In addition, if telemarketers are selling goods or services or offering a prize in connection with a charitable solicitation, they must disclose their status as paid, professional fund-raisers and that the purpose of the call is to solicit a donation.” If a prize is offered, the firm must obtain from customers signed documents indicating the customers received written disclosures which contain the retail price of the prize, the chance of winning, all costs for getting the prize and the statement “No purchase or payment is necessary to win.” Telemarketing companies may not make calls between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. or telephone customers more than once in three months to sell the same product. The proposed rule would not be adopted until a 45-day comment period expires. The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 1994 requires the FTC to finalize the regulation by Aug. 16.

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Doctors Group Takes Aim at Children’s Ads: A pediatricians group wants to ban alcohol and tobacco ads in all media, cut the commercial time allowed during children’s TV programs and impose surcharges on TV advertisers who target youngsters. “The American Academy of Pediatrics believes advertising directed toward children is inherently deceptive and exploits children under age 8,” the organization said. The 49,000-member academy singled out television for the most criticism in a new policy statement in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics. In its statement, the group recommended:

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* Regulation of toy-based TV shows and strict enforcement of rules on educational programs.

* Tighter limits on the amount of advertising permitted for children’s television, perhaps to no more than five to six commercial minutes per hour, about half the current limit.

* Increased funds for the Children’s Television Endowment Fund for high-quality, educational programming, including a 10% surcharge on advertisers who target children and adolescents.

* Closer monitoring of stations’ adherence to the Children’s Television Act of 1990, governing educational programming and public service announcements.

* More prominent prime-time airing of anti-drug public service announcements.


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