Police in London have arrested a man on suspicion of contaminating food at three supermarkets.
Metropolitan Police detained Leoaai Elghareeb in Hammersmith and Fulham after foodstuffs at the stores were injected with an as yet unidentified substance via the use of needles. He was charged with contaminating or interfering with goods with intent and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Aug. 27.
Officers were called after the 37-year-old was reported to be shouting abuse at people in the street. He is alleged to have visited three supermarkets in Fulham Palace Road.
The stores are a Little Waitrose at 201-207 Fulham Palace Road; Sainsbury’s Local, 179-183 and Tesco Express, 168-188 on the same road. The supermarkets were closed and crime scenes put in place.
Affected food items are believed to be processed meats and microwaveable products. It is unknown how many items have been contaminated, or what with. Investigations are ongoing to establish if other businesses are involved in the incident. There have been no reports of people getting sick.
Hammersmith and Fulham council’s environmental health team is working with the supermarket branches affected. This includes asking the three retailers to discard items in the shop and do a deep clean of their premises.
The council, the Metropolitan Police and Public Health England are examining any risks to the public or staff at the supermarkets. Currently, these are thought to be low.
Police advised people who had bought any food items from these supermarkets on Wednesday evening (Aug. 25) to dispose of them as a precaution.
Met Police Detective Chief Superintendent, Owain Richards, said contaminated products include food and non-food items.
“Enquiries are also ongoing to identify what the items have been contaminated with and this is subject to further forensic examination. We would ask people not to speculate until we have these results. At this stage, there is nothing to suggest that the suspect has been working as part of the group but detectives are keeping an open mind around the motive for these events,” he said.
“We have not had further reports of the type of incidents brought to our attention and we are continuing to work on establishing the timeline of this man’s movements and the wider circumstances of these events.”
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