LAKELAND, Fla. – The importer of a Valentine's Day lollipop said it was voluntarily recalling the treats after metal fragments were found in at least two lollipops sold at central Florida stores.
Sherwood Brands of Maryland, which imports the candy from China, said it was recalling all of its Pokemon Valentine Cards and Pops, which have been pulled from the shelves of thousands of stores across the country.
Roughly 20 lollipops were seized at Kathleen Elementary School in Lakeland. X-rays determined that only one piece definitely had metal — what appeared to be a staple — baked inside, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
On Wednesday, a woman in nearby Mulberry told authorities she found a lollipop with a piece of metal in it in a bag of the same product. The metal appeared to be part of a razor blade, authorities said.
The sheriff's office issued a safety advisory and the Dollar General chain removed the product from its more than 8,000 stores nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating.
Judd said the two tainted lollipops were purchased from different Dollar General stores near Lakeland. He said the lollipops did not appear to have been tampered with and it appeared the metal was baked into the candy in China, where it was produced.
"Our children were put at risk of physical injury because of this," Judd said.
No injuries were reported and it was unclear whether the metal was intentionally placed in the candy.
The sheriff's office said Sherwood Brands was cooperating. "They are as concerned as we are," Judd said.
Sherwood Brands did not return calls seeking comment Thursday but announced the recall in a statement. The company said it was recalling the cards and treats, which were sold in packages of 10 and 30.
"Sherwood Brands is advising its distribution network to remove the Pokemon branded Valentine cards and lollipops from the shelves immediately. The product was sold at retailers nationwide," the company said in the statement.
Dollar General, headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tenn., also pulled another Sherwood Brands product, Dog Artlist Collection Valentine Cards and Pops, from shelves. Tawn Earnest, a spokeswoman for the chain, said no other pieces of metal have been found in the manufacturer's products.
China's reputation as an exporter has taken a beating in the past year following the discovery of dangerous chemicals in products from toothpaste to toys. Last year it announced a series of measures to boost product supervision.