Germany on alert after blackmailer threatens to poison food

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Police on Thursday released images of a suspect in a supermarket near Konstanz.

Police in Germany have arrested a man on suspicion of contaminating adult and baby food in the hope of gaining millions of euros from supermarkets.

Officials in the city of Konstanz say that the threatening email was sent to unspecified food retailers. Still, police told consumers to check the safety seals on products they buy and report suspected tampering to the authorities. They received 650 tips in response. The suspect was arrested near Tübingen, at some forty miles to the south of Stuttgart.

Earlier this month, police received an emailed threat to distribute 20 types of poisoned foodstuffs into supermarkets across Germany and overseas if they did not pay a sum believed to top €10 million ($12 million).

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Authorities in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said they would intensify checks of food on sale, but warned that identifying contaminated items would be a challenge.

Police and USA military officials in Germany are warning consumers who buy food or medicine on the local economy to look out for tampered products after jars of baby food in southern Germany were found to be poisoned. Officials located the jars and found they contained ethylene glycol - a compound used in antifreeze - but said there's no evidence anyone was poisoned.

The suspect, who as of Saturday had not confessed, faces 5 to 15 years of jail time for extortion under threat of force. Police are seeking one man seen on camera. The substance is colorless, odorless and has a sweet taste, but can lead to brain damage, kidney failure and death if consumed.

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