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Insurer recalls toys on choking risk

Bloomberg News / March 18, 2009
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NEW YORK - State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the biggest property and casualty insurer in the United States, will recall more than 800,000 toy bears given away by the company's agents because they pose a choking hazard.

The insurer received one report of a so-called Good Neigh Bear losing a plastic eye, which a child placed in her mouth, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said yesterday in a statement.

The girl wasn't injured. The toys were made for the Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer in China, according to the statement.

Insurers including MetLife Inc., Axa SA, and the Geico unit at Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. distribute plush toys to build goodwill. Axa, France's largest insurer, has a gorilla mascot.

MetLife, the biggest US life insurer, has the Snoopy dog, and Geico uses a green gecko.

Consumers can visit www.statefarm.com or call the insurer at 877-226-8079 for more information, the statement said. The brown bears, with State Farm shirts, were distributed from September 2005 through March of 2007.

"Our first concern is for safety and for those children who may have come into contact or who may come into contact" with the bears, said State Farm spokesman Kip Diggs in a phone interview. "We just want people to be safe."

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