The Food Taster: German man suspected of killing 21 co-workers by poisoning their food

Darko Janjevic of DW reports German authorities launched a probe into a string of deaths at a metal fittings company after an employee was caught trying to poison a co-worker’s lunch. Police found quicksilver, lead and cadmium in the man’s home.

The man was arrested for the incident in the town of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock, northwest Germany. However, police now suspect he may be responsible for up to 21 deaths of people working for the same company.

The police detained the 56-year-old suspect in May this year, after one of his co-workers noticed an unknown white powder on his food. The would-be victim alerted his superiors and asked them to review the recordings made by security cameras, which then showed the suspect adding the substance to the co-worker’s lunch.

“In the beginning we thought it was a misconceived prank between co-workers, and not a murder attempt,” said Tilo Blechinger, the manager for the metal fittings manufacturer ARI Armaturen, to the DPA news agency.

The case escalated to an attempted murder after authorities identified the powder as lead acetate, a highly toxic and nearly tasteless substance that could cause serious organ damage.

Woman in India ‘kills party guests with poisoned food because they ridiculed her cooking’

Pradnya Survase, of Khalapur, faces the death penalty after five guests died at the feast in Mahad, in Raigad district, on June 18. Police said Survase intended to kill her husband, her mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, along with her mother-in-law’s sister and her husband after they ‘regularly insulted’ her complexion and cooking.

Pradnya Survase is alleged to have poisoned family members with pesticides in dal. According to authorities, Survase allegedly mixed snake poison into a container of dal that was then served to guests, which left 88 people in hospital and led to the deaths of five.

Vishwajeet Kaingade, senior police inspector of Khalapur police station, told the Hindustan Times: ‘Pradnya claims that since her marriage two years ago, she has been insulted regularly for her dark complexion and accused of not being able to cook well.’ Survase, divorced from her first husband, also believes relatives had damaged her second marriage. She is alleged to have served poisoned dal to the guests. Around 120 people were invited to the housewarming and a village cook prepared food which was served from 2.30pm until 11.30pm. But those who ate later in the day began complaining of nausea, vomiting and stomach ache just a few hours later. The newspaper reports that 88 people were hospitalised and four children, aged between seven and 13, died along with 53-year-old Gopinath Nakure, two of whom were related to Survase. Vilash Thikrey, a 13-year-old who survived the poisoning, remembers the dal tasting ‘bitter’. 

Teens injesting laundry detergent in what’s dubbed the Tide pod challenge

CBS News reports that in this latest social media fad, teenagers are putting detergent pods in their mouths in what’s being called the “Tide Pod Challenge.”

Ingredients in the pods include ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and polymers – a highly-toxic mix of detergent meant to wipe out dirt and grime. Manufacturers have been concerned about toddlers mistakenly ingesting them, but now teens are popping them on purpose and posting videos of the results online, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.

Nineteen-year-old Marc Pagan, who did it on a dare, told CBS News he knew better but did it anyway.

“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how – why would I be willing to do that,” he said. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”

Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, says ingesting any of the liquid carries a deadly risk.

“This is what started out as a joke on the internet and now it’s just gone too far,” Buerkle said.

The pods are bright and colorful and to children they can look like candy. At least 10 deaths have been linked to ingesting these pods. Two were toddlers, eight were seniors with dementia.

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide products, told CBS News: “They should not be played with… Even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter.”

More than 62,000 children under the age of six were exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergents, between 2013 and 2014.

The next year, Consumer Reports said it would no longer recommend detergent packets, citing “the unique risks” while urging the “adoption of tougher safety measures.”

“Laundry detergent pods are highly concentrated detergent,” says Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and spokeswoman for the Iowa Poison Control Center. “Biting into them can cause diarrhea, some vomiting and sometimes that vomiting can even go on and on, excessive vomiting where we worry about it leading into dehydration.” Even if it’s being done as a joke and the person never intends to swallow the detergent, biting into the pod will likely make it squirt right down their gullet.

“It can cause burns in the mouth, the throat and the stomach,” Noble says. “Or there’s been cases where it accidentally gets into the lungs, where they aspirate it. That can cause significant breathing problems and sometimes that patient needs to be put on a ventilator to help them breathe.”

Frozen spinach recalled in Italy, possible mandrake contamination

Something is probably lost in translation. But as reported by Repubblica Milano and translated in ProMed, a batch of Bonduelle brand frozen spinach was removed from the market.

The decision of the company, which produces the food in question at a Spanish plant in Navarre, came after a warning from the Ministry of Health. “The product should not be consumed — reads in the recall — due to a suspected presence of mandrake leaves.”

The withdrawal concerns production batch 15986504-7222 45M63 08:29 whose 750g bags have an expiration date of August 2019.

On 30 Sep 2017, an entire family was admitted to the Fatebenefratelli hospital in Milan after eating a pack of frozen spinach bought at the supermarket. A 60-year-old man, a 55-year-old woman, and their children, 18 and 16 years old, ended up at the first aid unit because they showed mental confusion and amnesia of various degrees of severity.

The AST [local health authority] analyses have determined that the clinical picture is compatible with contamination of the original product with mandrake, a grass that can invade fields of edible vegetable crops. The leaves of mandrake, thought to be magical in antiquity, are actually poisonous.

The company issued a clarification in the evening. “There is no information — the statement reads — that permits the attribution of mandrake leaf contamination of our products.” Bonduelle — adds the note — is issuing the recall of some of the product ‘Spinaci Millefoglie Bonduelle’ as a precautionary measure.”

German police arrest suspect in baby-food poisoning threats

Associated Press reports that German authorities said Saturday they are confident that a 53-year-old man arrested a day earlier is behind a blackmail attempt that saw jars of poisoned baby food placed on store shelves in southern Germany.

Prosecutors said investigators found the same poison — ethylene glycol, a compound used in antifreeze — when they arrested the man Friday near the southwestern city of Tuebingen.

Chief prosecutor Alexander Boger told a news conference in Konstanz, on Germany’s southern border, that the man hadn’t confessed but the evidence against him was substantial.

DNA found on the baby food jars and pictures taken with a supermarket surveillance camera also pointed to the suspect, who wasn’t identified due to German privacy rules, prosecutors said.

Authorities and companies received an email this month threatening to poison unspecified food at German retailers inside the country and beyond unless more than 10 million euros ($11.8 million) was paid by Saturday.

The blackmailer alerted authorities that five jars of baby food at shops in Friedrichshafen, near Konstanz, had been tampered with. Officials located the jars and found they contained ethylene glycol but said there’s no evidence that anyone was poisoned.

22 sentenced for selling 5,000 kg poisoned dog meat in China

The Indian Express reports that 22 people were sentenced to up to eight years in prison for making and selling more than 5,000 kilograms of tainted dog sadie.dog.powellmeat in China’s Jiangsu Province.

Prosecutors in Rugao city have investigated 14 cases regarding tainted food, which involved over 5,000 kilograms of poisoned dog meat, 11,000 poisoned birds and 500 kilograms of hazardous chemicals.

Police detained Lao Gan (pseudonym) who purchased 7,000 kilogrammes of poisoned dog meat before tracking down another five people.

They also bought half of the meat and sold it to restaurants in the outskirts of cities in Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces, state-run Global Times reported.

Local police also caught eight men for killing and selling over 11,000 ‘poisoned birds’, most of which were sold to restaurants in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces.

The sentences came as China faced criticism both at home and abroad for not banning the annual dog meat festival in Yulin last week where 10,000 dogs were reported to have been slaughtered.

45 ISIS fighters killed by poisoned Ramadan meal

Reports surfaced from Iraqi media last week that 45 Islamic State (ISIS/IS/ISIL) jihadis were killed after ingesting an iftar meal commemorating the conclusion of Ramadan. It remains unclear whether the jihadis, who were breaking their Ramadan fast in Mosul, Iraq, died of food poisoning or intentional poisoning, Haaretz reports.

isis.poisonA Kurdish Democratic Party spokesman said that 145 ISIS militants took part in the iftar meal and that 45 died shortly thereafter.

ISIS fighters have fallen under a similar trap before, according to reports from other Middle East outlets.

In November, Free Syrian Army men who posed as cooks reportedly poisoned ISIS fighters’ meals, killing a dozen, the UK’s Mirror reported, citing the Times of Iraq.

Cameras everywhere: Student filmed allegedly spitting in roommates’ food, adding poison

Police say a University of South Carolina student has been arrested after her roommates set up a camera and caught her spitting and putting window cleaner in their food.

security-camera-iconInvestigators told media outlets the roommates set up the camera because they had several arguments with 22-year-old Hayley King and she refused to leave their off-campus apartment.

Columbia police say the camera caught King taking several containers of food out of a refrigerator in February and spitting or spraying window cleaner into them. Authorities say one of the roommates ate out of one of the containers before seeing the video.

King is charged with unlawful, malicious tampering with human drug product or food. Her lawyer didn’t respond to a request to comment.

10 sick; Croations in Italy hospitalized for food poisoning

At least 10 supporters of Cedevita Zagreb, a Croatian professional basketball team, were sickened during a trip to Sardinia.

Saturday there was a huge dinner on a farm, Sunday lunch in a restaurant with a menu based on fish. But something did not work and when the Cedevita Zagrebfans arrived at PalaSerradimigni, they began to twitch in the throes of an excruciating stomach ache that forced them to overshadow the game (something probably lost in translation).

Rubbing alcohol? Woman charged over poisoned juice at California Starbucks store

A California woman who police say planted two bottles of tainted orange juice at a San Jose Starbucks has been charged with attempted murder, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, is accused of adding rubbing alcohol to the contents of the bottles and then placing them into a refrigerated display sbucksorangejuicecase, Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer told reporters.

“According to our San Jose firefighters that were on scene and the fire captain there — they really are the experts there — it was a lethal dose,” he said.

Behbehanian was arrested Monday after a customer spotted her allegedly pulling out two bottles of orange juice from a bag and putting them in the display case, he said.

The customer reported it to employees, according to police. The customer also got a license plate number, and investigators later traced the plate to Behbehanian’s residence, Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson said.

The employees immediately pulled the bottles of orange juice from the display case, and the store was evacuated until firefighters could determine the contents of the bottles, Hutson said.