CBS News reported it first on Monday night–that U.S. officials had gotten wind of a terrorist plot to slip poisons into hotel and restaurant salad bars and buffets in multiple locations during a single weekend.
Tuesday other news organizations chimed in, repeating the CBS assertion that intelligence reports indicated ricin or cyanide would be used to mimic food poisoning but also to create maximum uncertainty and fear about the safety of the U.S. food supply, further damaging the already weak economy.
CBS cited an anonymous source who called this a credible threat and said Department of Homeland Security officials, as well as officials with the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture, had briefed some members of the restaurant and hospitality industry.
A spokesman for Homeland Security, however, declined a CBS request to comment on speculation about specific plots, saying only that the U.S. has “engaged in extensive efforts for many years to guard against all types of terrorist attacks, including unconventional attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.”
The spokesman stressed that terror groups have long stated their intention to try to carry out unconventional attacks that might be relatively small but that would aim to be highly disruptive.