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Threats of poisoning force cookie recall in Australia

February 14, 1997

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ A leading food company recalled its cookies from four Australian states Friday while police investigate anonymous threats to plant poisoned cookies in stores.

Grocery workers in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria were pulling cookies made by Arnotts, a firm owned by New Jersey-based Campbell Soup Co.

Six people have received packages containing threatening letters and boxes of poisoned Arnotts cookies, which they passed along to police, said detective Superintendent Ron Pickering.

One of the letters went to a newspaper in Brisbane. Police did not reveal who got the others or what kind of poison was used in the cookies.

Police said the mailed threats included a demand that a New South Wales police officer undergo a lie detector test in connection with an investigation into the murder of bookie Peter George Wade and his wife in 1991.

In 1993, the Brisbane Supreme Court found Ronald Henry Thomas guilty of the murders and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The letters claim that police framed Thomas.

Pickering said 50 detectives had spent the past two weeks working to track down the extortionists.

Unless their demand is met by Monday, the letter says, poisoned packets of Arnotts cookies will be placed on supermarket shelves in New South Wales and Queensland, the spokesperson said.

Arnotts is the one of the biggest food companies in Australia.

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