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Weird tale of Ricin Baby Food

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posted on Aug, 31 2004 @ 04:47 AM

On May 31 this year, an unidentified couple in Irvine, CA were feeding their 9-month-old baby. The baby's meal was Gerber Baby Banana Yogurt Dessert. As they spooned the food from the jar to the baby's mouth, they discovered a small note inside the bottle, wrapped in celophane. The threatening note said that whoever was eating the food in which the note had been found would die, and also made threats to a named Irvine police officer.

The father brought his child to the hospital, where under observation and testing the baby proved to be unaffected by the scary incident. The police were notified, and they collected the baby food jar and presumably interviewed witnesses.

On June 16th, after another father fed his 11-month-old son an unspecified amount of Banana Yogurt Dessert by Gerber, he discovered another small, celophane-wrapped note, again making threats of poison and referencing a police officer. Again, the baby was brought to the doctor, and police notified.

The baby food jars and their remaining contents spent most of their time until the middle of July in an unrefrigerated evidence locker in the Irvine police department while the police looked for fingerprints and clues to solve the crime of food tampering. It was discovered that both jars of food were bought at the Woodbridge Ralphs store, in Irvine. Any possible leads produced from fingerprints on the jars, the notes, or from clues inside the store have not been disclosed. Evidence from store security cameras and witnesses is unknown outside the investigation at this time.

Sometime in mid-July, the case was turned over to the FBI and the FDA. The FDA apparently found Ricin in 'trace amounts' in the remains of the baby food.

On July 27 and 28, FBI press releases sparked international headlines warning that the deadly toxin Ricin had been found in Gerber baby food. Authorities were also quick to point out that they were sure the food had been in pristine condition upon leaving the Gerber plant. No doubt this brought considerable relief of the Gerber company, whose trademark smiling baby takes on different qualities when associated with a poison that when concentrated is easily twice as deadly as cobra venom.

The stories that ran in the media on July 28 and 29 and soon thereafter detailed the FBI's search for a transient man alternately detailed as a 'suspect' or a man the FBI 'simply wanted to question about events pertaining to the poisoning.'

Exactly what Charles Dewey Cage, 47, a former convict and current transient and public drunkard had to do with the case was unclear. However, the easy-going park drifter was soon found, and questioned by the FBI for about an hour, whereupon his lawyer chided the FBI for showering him with infamy.

Cage, meanwhile, repeatedly stated his intentions to 'make the FBI and the Irvine PD bow down,' for dragging him into the affair. Cage worked at the Walnut Avenue and Culver Drive Ralphs earlier in 2004, but lost his job during the grocery strike around January. According to Cage, his entire involvement with being a witness to the case involved "being drunk and maybe seeing something." While police refuse to speculate on exactly what he saw, Cage was released when his witnessing failed to break open the case. +

At about the time that the Cage story was panning out in the media, the FDA revised its statements to the effect that the trace amounts of ricin found in the baby food was not ricin in its purified form, but rather a less-purified form of ricin in the form of castor beans. Since it only took 0.2 milligrams of ricin to snuff out Cold War spy and Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978, unpure ricin, the thought of 'trace amounts,' or 'less-purified' ricin is hardly a comforting one.

Ricin is the toxin from the tropical Ricinus communis plant, more commonly known as the castor bean. It is a common plant and is wholly poisonous. The largest concentrations of ricin are found in the plants pretty, 5mm - 15mm seeds, which are sometimes used as decoration, but commonly used to produce castor oil, and with preparation sillage. While concentrated ricin extracted from the beans, or seeds, is the pure, deadly toxin, the entire plant is potentially lethal to adults and moreso to children. A single bean may have enough ricin seriously injure a child, and a few would inevitably be fatal. There is no antidote. The seeds must be ingested for the affect. The toxins may be partially nullified in the digestive system. Ricin is most lethal when absorbed intravenously or injected. However, some people are lethally allergic to it. *

While the FDA is not disclosing the amount of castor beans, or less-than-pure ricin, depending on how you look at it, that was found in the baby food, the investigation seems to have stalled, not unlikethe investigation into ricin borne through the USPS to the offices of Senator T. Frist and the White House in February, 2004, or the anthrax last tracked to the murkiness of Ft. Deitrich, MD.

Interestingly enough, however, one story that could somehow pertain to the mysterious castor bean / ricin scare went undetected except to newshounds addicted to the high-stakes world of supermarket competition and its dark side:

Suspect Arrested in Ralphs Extortion Plot
COMPTON, Calif. (May 10, 2004) -- Federal authorities in Los Angeles arrested a British national Wednesday and charged him with trying to extort $180,000 from Ralphs by threatening to put contaminated food products on the chain's shelves. David Ian Dickinson, 43, reportedly sent a package to Ralphs' headquarters here in February with jars of baby food that had been adulterated one with shards of glass, one with hydraulic fluid, and two with boric acid. Authorities pinpointed Dickinson as the suspect based on the post office from which the package was mailed and the $1 stamps he used. They then kept him under surveillance for about a month while they gathered evidence to get an arrest warrant. The FBI said no tainted products were ever placed on store shelves. **

Hmmm, no tainted products ever placed on store shelves. Maybe the food-stamp grubbing Mr. Dickinson's plan somewhat got underway, afterall...

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 11:11 AM
Are you suggesting these two are related? Or are you suggesting that these two stories have implied connections but serve a greater purpose when tied into the reports of the mail sent to Senator Frist and the White House scare?

Perhaps no one wanted us to know about the Dickenson arrest, as a Ricin scare serves the purpose of keeping us fearful and informed at the same time. It's amusing that most people probably don't know ricin is made from castor beans, but now we do. The news is often a terrorism tutorial teaching us what to be afraid of, what form to fear, how to make it, and how to distribute it.

I'm actually surprised this didn't get more attention considering it involved baby food. Usually people go crazy over anything that could kill children especially in something like their food. Mail is a little more innocuous. Gerber got lucky. That sort of press could destroy a business.

Cage looks like a convenient scapegoat to keep people from realizing that nothing much was incovered. Drag in some poor homeless man, make sure he's black and photographs with an empty stare, has a record, and is drunk and everyone feels better now that the 'bad guy' gets caught.

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 07:36 PM
It's highly unlikely that the FBI would not be able to solve this case. Just look at Dickinson case they solved. On May 10 the FBI claimed that no contaminated products had reached store shelves, but on May 31 and June 16 contaminated baby food was discovered. We don't know when the jars were purchased. We don't know how much of the food was consumed. We don't know who the parents were.

A child would most certainly be sick if they consumed ground-up castor beans.

Charles Dewey Cage obviously didn't know anything about the case.

Why was information about ricin in the food released before the FBI could finish the investigation? No motive, no suspect, no witnesses, no leads, just "We found ricin in baby food."

It smacks of a publicity stunt to get people interested in ricin.

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 07:45 PM
link exactly did the contaminate get in the food? those baby food jars are sealed TIGHT...and i should know, i have an 11 month old. ant info on how it got into the jars?

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 07:49 PM

Originally posted by psychosgirl exactly did the contaminate get in the food? those baby food jars are sealed TIGHT...and i should know, i have an 11 month old. ant info on how it got into the jars?

Vaccuum sealing under industrial conditions is hard to reproduce without specific equipment, but it's possible. All you need to do is have the jar in a low-pressure environment when the lid is put back on, or seal the jar when the food is extremely hot. To do it as well as it's done at a baby food factory is difficult but doable.

posted on Sep, 2 2004 @ 07:56 PM
that's freaking scarey. thank goodness my gal's off of the baby food!

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