Michigan man charged with sprinkling poison on food at stores

The man suspected of sprinkling a combination of mouse poison, hand sanitizer and water on produce in grocery stores in Michigan was arraigned on Thursday in district court in Ann Arbor, Mich., on four felony counts of poisoning food and drink.

mouse.poison.ann_.arbor_Kyle Andrew Bessemer, 29, was arrested after he was identified by members of the public when images from surveillance video showing him in a grocery store with a red shopping basket were published online, the F.B.I. and the local police announced on Tuesday.

The authorities said Mr. Bessemer, of Ann Arbor, had intentionally contaminated food in open food bars and produce sections by spraying the items with the mixture at stores, including a Whole Foods Market, a Meijer and a Plum Market, over the last two weeks.

It was not clear if anyone had been sickened by the poison or how it had been detected. The authorities did not provide a motive.

The announcement that someone had randomly doused self-serve food sent a shudder of concern throughout the food industry, which is well aware of the unintentional contamination associated with people serving themselves from common bowls and trays, said Michael Doyle, the director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

Consumers lean in and heap their plates, some without utensils. People sneeze into the food. Some scoop up a little taste with their fingers. Strands of hair, from scalps or beards, can drift down into the serving bowls. Mr. Doyle said his wife once found a Band-Aid in a salad.

“I try to avoid them,” he said, referring to salad bars and buffets.

E. coli O104 in sprouts, 2011: Natural, accidental or deliberate

In 2011, Germany was hit by one of its largest outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis and haemolytic uraemic syndrome caused by a new emerging enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain.kevin.allen.sprout

The German Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome/Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (GHUSEC) outbreak had unusual microbiological, infectiological and epidemiological features and its origin is still only partially solved. The aim of this article is to contribute to the clarification of the origin of the epidemic.

Methods: To retrospectively assess whether the GHUSEC outbreak was natural, accidental or a deliberate one, we analysed it according to three published scoring and differentiation models. Data for application of these models were obtained by literature review in the database Medline for the period 2011–13.

Results: The analysis of the unusual GHUSEC outbreak shows that the present official assumption of its natural origin is questionable and pointed out to a probability that the pathogen could have also been introduced accidentally or intentionally in the food chain.

Conclusion: The possibility of an accidental or deliberate epidemic should not be discarded. Further epidemiological, microbiological and forensic analyses are needed to clarify the GHUSEC outbreak.

Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak in Germany—clarification of the origin of the epidemic

European Journal of Public Health, vol 25, issue 1, p. 125-129

Vladan Radosavljevic, Ernst-Jürgen Finke, Goran Belojevic


London judges’ food spiked with urine

Police are investigating allegations of food contamination at a crown court in east London after judges’ lunches at Snaresbrook Crown Court were allegedly spiked with urine.

The Sun newspaper said it was feared someone with a grudge against the justice system had launched a revenge campaign.

Traces of urine were believed to have been found in soups, salads and sandwiches.

A private dining room known as the advocates’ lounge has been shut down until further notice, the newspaper said.

Staff working there are believed to have been suspended while the probe goes on, it said, adding that all are thought to have been supplied to the court by Eurest Services, a division of catering giant Compass.

A spokeswoman for Eurest Services said it was "aware of a suspected case of food contamination."

Chinese billionaire dies after eating poisoned cat stew: police

Chinese billionaire Long Liyuan died after dining on slow-boiled cat meat stew laced with the toxic herb Gelsemium elegans during a business lunch in the Guangdong province.

The case became an online sensation after the police said they had detained the local official, Huang Guang, who had also been hospitalized with food poisoning after the Dec. 23 lunch, in the city of Yangjiang.

The police now suspect that Mr. Huang slipped Gelsemium elegans into the stew while eating lunch with Long Liyuan, 49, who ran a forestry company, and another friend. To avoid suspicion, Mr. Huang apparently ate some of the stew himself. All three men were hospitalized, according to the police account, and Mr. Long died almost immediately.

The police discovered evidence that Mr. Huang had embezzled money from Mr. Long, and detained him on Dec. 30.

Sabotage continues on Australian crops; biosecurity measures prevented latest attack

A saboteur who tried to poison a large strawberry crop in Queensland, Australia, has been foiled by tight security measures introduced after a similar attack in 2009.

Gowinta Farms at Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast, would have been facing multi-million dollar losses if staff had not discovered poison in the farm’s water stores.

Spokesman James Ashby said up to 170 acres of strawberries would have been lost and the incident, detected on Tuesday, was a lesson for all farmers about the importance of good security.

After the 2009 attack, which destroyed a greenhouse crop of tomatoes and cucumbers, the farm imposed a system to drain water tanks at the end of each day and regularly test water quality.

As a result, the presence of the poison was obvious to staff on Tuesday morning, Mr Ashby said.

Meanwhile, police are still trying to find those responsible for a crop sabotage incident at Bowen in north Queensland in June last year.

In that incident, Bowen Supa Seedlings lost more than seven million fruit and vegetable seedlings, destined to become crops for dozens of local growers, when its irrigation system was contaminated with herbicide.

A neighbouring property that shared the irrigation system lost more than 16,000 mature tomato plants.

How much food poisoning is deliberate?

Not deliberately dumb, or deliberately daft, but deliberate with intent for death – or at least dysentery.

Sweden’s security service Säpo is investigating possible sabotage following an incident which left 140 people at the headquarters of Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) suffering from dysentery.

The victims, which included employees of the association, its members, and other guests, all suffered from the illness caused by the Shigella dysenteriae bacteria after eating in the office’s cafeteria several weeks ago, reports the Veckans Affärer magazine.

According to the Metro newspaper, the group claiming responsibility for the attack is a left-leaning, internet-based forum which had previously staged demonstrations outside of the association’s headquarters.

In Texas, an IHOP restaurant has been closed three times in the past five months for repeated occurrences of what health investigators call a rare Salmonella, type C; over 10 people have been sickened.

Group C is a strain that researchers and health officials hardly ever see and it’s so powerful it clings to surfaces and is more resistant to disinfection.

Police have been called in to help with the investigation.