Update on the ongoing investigation of intentional contamination of food at grocery stores in Michigan

LANSING, MI – The Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Health and Human Services, and the Washtenaw County Health Department continue to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ann Arbor Police Department on an investigation involving intentional food contamination at retail grocery stores.Washtenaw County grocery store

This issue was first reported last week by a Whole Foods store in Ann Arbor when a store employee witnessed a man spraying an unknown substance on food products in the store. Photographs of the suspect taken from surveillance videos in the store were distributed by the FBI, and a consumer tip led to the arrest of the suspect.

During the investigation, the suspect admitted to spraying a mixture of TomCat brand mouse poison, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and water at two other Ann Arbor area stores. Further investigation by the FBI indicated 12 additional stores in Ann Arbor, Flint, Saline, Midland and Birch Run had the potential to be impacted.

After further investigation of the potential chemicals involved in the intentional food contamination mixture in Ann Arbor, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is releasing updated health guidance.

The chemicals found in some formulations may also include Bromethalin, a neurotoxin. Based on the available information, MDHHS does not anticipate any serious health effects. However, if anyone experiences any symptoms such as headache, confusion, personality change, or tremors, they should contact their doctor or call the Michigan Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Food Safety and Security Response
MDARD immediately responded to this threat to food safety. MDARD sent inspectors to each implicated store to assess the foods, review inventory records and cleaning practices, examine video footage taken at the stores and re-enforce food security and food safety protocols. Additionally, MDARD contacted the corporate offices and store managers to notify them of a possible food issue in the stores. If potential risks to food safety were identified, food was placed under seizure, removed from sale, and immediately disposed of.

As of the afternoon of May 4, MDARD food inspectors have visited all 15 stores, and there is no evidence of further issues at these stores. MDARD will continue working with the FBI during this ongoing investigation, and respond as needed.

Food industry employees and consumers are reminded to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities. Remember, “If you see something, say something.” Any suspicious activities should be immediately reported to local law enforcement.

MDARD would like to acknowledge the cooperation and quick response of employees at Michigan’s retail grocery stores and local health departments during this incident, and commend them for their role in protecting the safety and security of our food supply.

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