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Government Challenges Diaper Company’s Environmental Claims

August 30, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Trade Commission says a California company has agreed to stop claiming that its disposable diapers will decompose in landfills before the babies that wore them grow up.

The case, the first brought by the federal government involving claims that a product is biodegradable, follows similar actions by several states.

American Enviro Products of Placentia, Calif., has claimed that its ″Bunnies″ diapers, marketed nationwide, will break down in three to five years when disposed of in a landfill.

Under a consent agreement with the FTC on Thursday, the company will be forced to soften its environmental claims about the diapers, and will no longer be allowed to suggest that they are significantly better for the environment than other similar products.

The president of the small, private company said, however, that he was pleased with the pact because it will establish standards for companies wishing to make environmental claims about their products.

American Enviro Products has made its Bunnies diapers for nearly three years.

--- Koop Claims Risk of Getting AIDS From Doctor Is Slight

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop says he thinks the public is making too much of the possibility that a patient can contract the deadly AIDS virus from a doctor.

On Thursday, Koop said many Americans are ″concerned and confused″ about the AIDS hazard, and added that there is ″essentially no risk″ of getting it from a doctor.

Officials of the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and the Society for Hospital Epidemiology of America joined Koop in arguing against mandatory testing of physicians or other stringent measures.

Karen Ringen, legislative representative of the AIDS Action Council, applauded the statements at the news conference and said, ″This kind of reassurance from the medical community is long overdue.″

″By far the biggest real risk of AIDS is behavioral,″ said Dr. Raymond Scalettar, a member of the AMA board of trustees. ″The huge majority of people who get AIDS were exposed to the virus through unprotected sexual contact - whether heterosexual or homosexual - and through intravenous drug use which involved shared needles.″

The Centers for Disease Control has issued voluntary guidelines for health care workers to follow in case they become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus that is the forerunner of AIDS.

Dr. Gary Noble, deputy director of the CDC, said, ″In the overwhelming number of medical encounters, we simply don’t need to be worried about AIDS or hepatitis B transmission....″

--- Government’s Travel Advisories Faulted by GAO

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional investigators say the State Department has failed to issue sufficient warnings on the danger of traveling in foreign regions with high rates of violent crime.

The General Accounting Office report, released Thursday, especially faulted the department for its advisories on conditions in the Bahamas, Brazil, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Trinidad and Zaire.

″While it is important to keep good relations with foreign governments and businesses, we cannot and must not allow diplomatic niceties to stand in the way of informing Americans about real risks when they are making travel plans,″ said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who released the report.

State Department officials acknowledge that its travel warnings, issued since the 1970s, are unpopular with other governments. But they say the major consideration in deciding when to issue them is the safety of U.S. citizens.

The GAO report recommends a clear policy for issuing travel advisories, especially for areas where crime is known to pose a threat to foreign visitors.

It also calls for a more evenhanded system of warning travelers, and said that while 39 Americans were murdered in Mexico during a 21-month period that ended in February, no warning was issued for that country. By contrast, a travel advisory was issued for Kenya after one American was slain there.

--- Jackson Receives Death Threats, Aide Says

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jesse Jackson now has 24-hour police protection after a break-in at his apartment and a rash of death threats against the civil rights leader, authorities say.

District of Columbia Police spokesman Ed Wilson termed the move ″a precautionary measure.″

″The investigation is being conducted to make certain the burglary was a crime against property and not a threat directed toward Rev. Jackson.″

A burglar stole a radio from the home Tuesday, apparently fleeing when Jackson’s mother-in-law, Gertrude Brown, came upstairs. Mrs. Brown was the only person home, police said.

It was the fourth break-in at the home in 18 months, Jackson aides said.

Frank Watkins, a Jackson spokesman, said three death threats against the two-time Democratic presidential hopeful have been received in recent days.

On Wednesday, a man posing as a repairman was chased and tackled by several employees at Jackson’s National Rainbow Coalition offices after a worker noticed items missing from her purse.

That man, Ralph Frank, 32, of Washington was charged with theft.

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