Man Sprinkled Mouse Poisoning and Hand Cleaner on Produce at Grocery Stores

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By The New York Times

A man accused of sprinkling mouse poison and hand cleaner on produce at several self-service food bars in Michigan grocery stores over the last two weeks has been arrested, the F.B.I. and local police said on Tuesday.

Images taken from surveillance video at a supermarket and published online by the F.B.I. showed the man carrying a red basket in a grocery store, walking past a display of avocados and down aisles.

The man was identified by members of the public and arrested by the agency and the Ann Arbor police, but his name had not been released as of early Wednesday.

The authorities said the man was suspected of contaminating food in several Ann Arbor grocery stores, including a Whole Foods Market, a Meijer and a Plum Market, over the last two weeks. It was not clear if anyone had been sickened by the poison or how it had been detected.

“Our joint investigation leads us to believe that this individual sprayed a liquid mixture of hand cleaner, water and Tomcat mice poison on produce,” the authorities said. It said the man admitted to using the “potentially hazardous material to contaminate food.”

The authorities did not provide a motive.

David P. Gelios, an F.B.I. special agent, said in the statement that the man had visited several other grocery stores in the Ann Arbor area in the last few months. State authorities listed at least 15 other stores in other cities, including Flint and Midland, that might have been affected.

Health officials in Michigan said that the man also admitted to contaminating some produce stacked in stands.

The authorities said the chemicals in the mixture were a form of anticoagulant, similar to what is found in medicines that prevent blood clotting. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said that it “does not anticipate any adverse health effects” on anyone who ate the contaminated products.

“Out of an abundance of caution and to protect public health and food safety, I encourage consumers to dispose of any foods purchased from salad bars, olive bars and ready-to-eat hot-and-cold food areas from these stores between mid-March and the end of April,” said Jamie Clover Adams, the director of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Although most of these types of foods may have already been eaten or disposed of, some may still be in refrigerators or freezers,” she said in a statement.

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