Poison threat directed at dairy giant

An anonymous blackmailer threatened to poison infant formula in New Zealand to protest the country’s use of poisonous baits for pest control, and sent dairy giant Fonterra packets of milk powder laced with pesticide, police said.

Prime minister John Key said the threat was likely a hoax, and assured parents that formula was safe for babies to drink.

Fonterra, the world’s largest exporter of dairy products and farming association Federated Farmers both received anonymous letters in November, police said.

The letters were accompanied by small packages of milk powder that tested positive for a concentrated form of the agricultural pesticide 1080, which is used by the country’s conservation department to control pests such as rats and possums.

The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 unless New Zealand stopped using it by the end of March.

Animal welfare advocates oppose the use of 1080, arguing it causes animals to suffer slow, painful deaths.

Since November, dozens of police have been trying without success to figure out who sent the letters, Clement said. The blackmailer had threatened to go public by the end of the month, prompting officials to make the announcement yesterday.


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