Kellogg Sued Over Flaming Pop-Tart

A Gloucester County couple has filed a lawsuit against Kellogg Co., claiming a flaming Pop-Tart sparked a fire that caused $100,000 in damage to their home.

Brenda J. Hurff of Washington Township put a cherry Pop-Tart in a toaster before taking her children to preschool. When she returned about 10 to 20 minutes later, smoke was coming from the Gloucester County home and firefighters already had arrived, said Mauro C. Casci, the Hurffs' attorney. Casci said he was not sure if the pastry became stuck in the toaster.

Official Cause: 'Unattended Food'

The cause of the July 2000 blaze was listed as "unattended food," according to the Washington Township fire department. The lawsuit was filed this week in Superior Court in Gloucester County. "We have not been served, so we would have no comment on this accident," Kellogg spokesman Richard Lovell said Saturday from Battle Creek, Mich. "Pop Tarts have been marketed since 1964; they have been thoroughly tested and are safe to toast and eat." The lawsuit also names Black & Decker Corp., the manufacturer of the toaster. A message left at the office of company spokeswoman Barbara B. Lucas was not immediately returned Saturday afternoon. A spokeswoman told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Saturday's editions that it would not comment on the lawsuit until next week.

Not the First Pop-Tart Suit

The Hurffs' case isn't the first to be filed over a Pop-Tart. Kellogg settled a lawsuit in 1995 that involved a man from Springfield, Ohio. Kellogg agreed to pay $2,400 in damages to the insurance company of Thomas Nangle, who claimed a fire damaged his kitchen after a Pop-Tart he was toasting in 1992 caught fire. The insurer had sued Nangle, who in turn argued that Kellogg should pay the damages. An attorney for Kellogg said at the time of the settlement that there was no admission of guilt. Syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry wrote a column about Pop-Tarts in 1993. Barry said the pastries caught fire after he put them in a toaster and held the handle down for about six minutes. Kellogg cautions consumers on Pop-Tart boxes that they should not leave toasters unattended due to possible risk of fire.