Authorities in New Zealand are investigating after an anonymous blackmailer threatened to poison baby formula in the country, as part of an effort to protest the use of toxic pest control methods.
The blackmailer sent packets of milk powder laced with pesticide in order to back up their threat, according to the Denver Post. Anonymous letters were sent both to dairy giant Fonterra, and the farming association Federated Farmers in November, along with the packages. When tested for poison, the milk powder was shown to contain 1080, an agricultural pesticide used to control animals like rats and possums. Its use is protested by animal rights groups, which allege that the poison causes a slow and painful death, according to Bloomberg.
— The New Daily (@TheNewDaily_) March 10, 2015
The anonymous letter writer threatened to utilize 1080 to contaminate baby formula in the country unless the pesticide was pulled from usage by the end of this month. More than 40,000 samples of formula have been tested by the Ministry for Primary Industries since the threat was made, and no trace of the poison has been found, authorities related. Prime Minister John Key assured worried families that the formula was safe for babies to drink, asserting that the threat was likely a hoax.
“We are advised it is extremely unlikely anyone could deliberately contaminate formula during the manufacturing process and there is no evidence that this has ever occurred. While it is very likely this threat is a hoax, we as the government have to take it seriously and I can assure you that we are.”
— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) March 10, 2015
Last year, a woman in Erie, Pennsylvania lost custody of her daughter after inadvertently feeding the baby formula that had been mixed with alcohol. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the alcohol had been left behind by a male friend of the child’s mother. The baby, which was taken into foster care, exhibited a blood alcohol level of 0.289 after ingesting the contaminated formula.
Though police have been working since November to determine the identity of the blackmailers, they have so far been unable to determine who is behind the letters. Despite the fact that one of the packages was sent to Fonterra, the culprit did not specifically threaten their product.
I want to reassure parents that every step is being taken to respond to the threat & ensure food products are safe. http://t.co/zmBl0Iny9c
— John Key (@johnkeypm) March 10, 2015
Authorities also noted that they were treating the threat to poison baby formula as a blackmail attempt, and not as an act of terrorism at this time.
[Photo by Fiona Goodall/ Getty Images]