Man in court over contamination claim

A man was remanded in custody today after he appeared in court over threats to place contaminated goods in a Norfolk supermarket.

A man was remanded in custody today after he appeared in court over threats to place contaminated goods in a Norfolk supermarket.

Hundreds of Morrisons stores across the British Isles were placed on security alert after a letter was left at the chain's King's Lynn branch on Friday, threatening unspecified food products would be contaminated.

Shane Ward, 53, appeared before JPs in Lynn today, charged with a public order offence in connection with the incident.

He is alleged to have claimed he had placed contaminated products on the shelves of Morrisons' Blackfriars Road store, with intent to cause it economic loss.

No plea was entered and he was remanded in custody to appear before Norwich magistrates next Tuesday.

Ward, of Saddlebow Road, Lynn, was arrested on Monday after an operation led by police and the Food Standards Agency.

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The FSA, which investigates more than 1,000 food-related incidents a year, said it had carried out a risk assessment of all 370 branches of the Morrisons supermarket chain over the weekend.

Liz McNulty, head of the FSA's incident branch, said: “As soon as we were alerted we arranged to carry out a full risk assessment. It was important to quickly establish both the nature and the scale of any potential threat.

“Working closely with the police, we were able to establish there is no reason to believe that any contaminated products have been sold or offered for sale to the public.”

Chief Supt Charlie Hall, who led the weekend's investigation, said: “This was an effective police-led operation.

“We acted quickly, co-ordinating the appropriate partner agencies who have great experience of this type of incident. We worked together well as a team, meeting initially on Friday and then regularly over the weekend.

“Our priority at all times was the safety of the public. Our actions were a careful balance between finding the person or people responsible and not causing unnecessary widespread alarm.”

A Morrisons spokesman said: “A threat was made about unspecified products at our King's Lynn store on Friday. We acted immediately, getting in contact with all partner agencies to carry out a full risk assessment.”

The incident came after a troubled week for the store chain, which serves an estimated 9m customers a week across the UK.

Two Morrisons branches in Scotland are at the centre of investigations into an outbreak of E-coli in which a 66-year-old woman died and a number of other elderly people have been hospitalised.

NHS officials said the infection was believed to have come from cooked meats bought from Morrisons in Paisley, Glasgow.

Environmental health officers are investigating companies which supply the store chain.

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