Supermarkets stay vigilant over 1080 baby formula threat

Supermarkets have instigated safety measures in reaction to the 1080 poisoning threat of infant baby formula.
John Bisset/Fairfax NZ

Supermarkets have instigated safety measures in reaction to the 1080 poisoning threat of infant baby formula.

New Zealand supermarkets are remaining vigilant against product tampering ahead of the deadline imposed by a blackmailer who threatened to lace baby food with 1080.

The unknown blackmailer sent threatening letters to Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November, claiming they would contaminate retail supplies of infant formula with the 1080 pesticide by the end of March unless the Government stopped using the poison in forest pest control.

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Foodstuffs managing director Steve Anderson said the company's Pak'n Save and New World stores maintained heightened surveillance and in-store security ahead of today's deadline.

"The message from MPI is that we must remain vigilant," Anderson said. "We continue to encourage customers to check for any signs of tampering prior to using their infant formula."

A Countdown spokeswoman said:

"We're encouraging any customer to speak directly to the police if they suspect a product has been tampered with," she said.

An MPI spokeswoman said the ministry appreciated the efforts consumers were making to check infant formula packages for signs of tampering. "Working together we can be confident that New Zealand infant and other formula is as safe to use today as it was before the blackmail threat," she said.

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Police had visited more than 3200 small retailers to distribute information on behalf of MPI and had received about 200 messages from the public "offering information on a range of issues", a spokesman said.

"We are grateful for those calls and we continue to encourage anyone with information to contact us," he said. "The investigation team remains very focused on identifying the person or persons responsible for the threat.

Prime Minister John Key said it was very likely the threat was a hoax, but the Government was taking it "very seriously". His spokeswoman said every resource had been made available to ensure all precautions were taken.

A Plunket spokeswoman said the charity's helpline received more calls from parents and caregivers after news of the threat broke, but the calls had since decreased.

 - The Press

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