Italian coffee and chocolate makers receive poisoning threats in powder attack

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Italian coffee and chocolate makers receive poisoning threats in powder attack
Lavazza's offices at the famous Nuvola building in Turin, designed by Italian architect Cino Zucchi. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Lavazza and Ferrero are among the Italian companies that received parcels containing “suspicious powder” and threats in an apparent extortion attempt.


Bomb technicians, police and firefighters were called to the offices of the Lavazza coffee company on Friday after the company received am envelope containing “suspicious green powder" and a demand for money.

Similar packages were soon discovered at the Caffè Vergnano di Santena plant, also in Turin, at the headquarters of the Illy coffee company, and at the Ferrero company headquarters in Alba.

The envelopes contained the green powder along with demands that each company pay 300,000 euros into a bitcoin account "by May 20th" or face having their products contaminated with the same substance, local media reported

The letters were reportedly sent from Belgium and written in "perfect" English.

The letters claimed that the green substance was "oleandrin, a vegetable substance capable of causing nausea and diarrhea, but also arrhythmia up to cardiac arrest,” Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

"Don't be fooled by the appearance: diluted or not, the poison is very effective,” they reportedly said.

“As you will know it is very easy to introduce a little poison into your products found on supermarket shelves. Can you imagine the disastrous effect on the image of your company if customers began to die of poisoning?”

Italian coffee makers Lavazza were among those targeted. Photo: AFP

Seven Lavazza staff based at the Nuvola (Cloud) building in Turin complained of respiratory problems and have been placed in quarantine while the powder is analysed.

Packages containing suspicious powder were also sent to Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino and Turin-based League party member Alessandro Sciretti last week.

The envelopes sent to the local politicians did not contain threats and demands for money, however. Instead they were signed "Scuola Diaz", the name of the base of a Genoa anti-globalist movement that was the target of a brutal police raid in 2001.

The companies and police investigating the attack have so far declined to comment, however local media reports that production continues as usual at all companies today.

In an apparently similar attack in Sweden, the Malmö offices of frozen food giant Findus were evacuated on Friday night after the company received a package containing “white powder” and a written threat.


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