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Ditch This Massager, If It Shows Up Under The Christmas Tree

The ShoulderFlex massager looks harmless enough. But don't be fooled.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to use the product because it could kill or injure them. There were reports of one person being strangled by the device and another near-death by strangulation, the FDA says.

Clothing, hair and jewelry can get tangled up in the device's rotating parts. And that's a recipe for trouble.

If this all sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because King International, the device's importer, recalled the massager in August.

But there's a new problem. Since the recall was announced, the FDA says it has learned that King International has gone out of business. The agency alleges the company failed to follow through on the massager recall and that a toll-free number set up to help with the recall has been disconnected.

"Because of this failure, the FDA is concerned that consumers may not be aware of the risks posed by the ShoulderFlex massager and may still be using this dangerous product," the agency said in a statement.

I called the King telephone number listed in the August recall notice to find out more, and, sure enough, that line was no longer in service.

Since 2003, nearly 12,000 of the massagers have been distributed in the U.S., the FDA says. If you receive one this Christmas or got one in years past, get rid of it.

The agency recommends disposing of the device's power supply and massage finger separately, so nobody can put the thing back together again.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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