Police probing 1080 threat test NZ infant formula after tampering reports

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Police probing 1080 threat test NZ infant formula after tampering reports

Related tags: Infant formula, Milk, New zealand

Police investigating a threat to contaminate New Zealand infant formula with sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) are testing tins after a number of consumers complained of pinpricks in packaging lids.

Malcolm Burgess, assistant commissioner, New Zealand Police, revealed today that a number of calls have been received concerning "possible infant formula product tampering such as possible pinpricks in packaging lids."

New Zealand Police announced on March 10 it was investigating a threat - made in letters sent to Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014 - to contaminate infant formula with 1080, in an "apparent protest"​ over use of the substance as a pest control poison. 

Operation Concord - the New Zealand Police team investigating the threat - has since received "a number of calls from members of the public" ​concerned about damage to infant formula packaging, said Burgess.

"In response to these calls a number of tins of product have been collected and secured by Police and all information relating to the incidents has been provided to the Operation Concord team and is in the process of being assessed,"​ he said.

"Tins of formula are being forensically tested where appropriate."

"Police appreciates the public's continued vigilance in reporting any concerns about infant formula which will be thoroughly followed up. At this stage there is no information from these incidents which suggests the public is at risk," ​Burgess added.

New Zealand Government Food Protection - a website set up in response to the 1080 criminal threat - said it is "aware of the reports."

The letters sent to Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings, and Federated Farmers CEO, Graham Smith, in November 2014 contained a threat to contaminate formula products with 1080 unless New Zealand ended its use of the pest control poison by the end of March.

Samples of milk powder sent with the letters tested positive for 1080. 

Biodegradable 1080 is the salt form of fluoroacetate, a toxin found in several plants. 

Pellets of 1080 are applied aerially in New Zealand to kill pests such as possums, which have been blamed for spread of bovine tuberculosis.

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