Heinz, one of two baby-food companies in Britain whose products have been deliberately contaminated, said Thursday it received blackmail threats but would not pay any money to extortionists.
Nails, razor blades, small pieces of broken glass, tacks, caustic soda and needles have been found throughout Britain and Ireland in more than 50 items of baby food produced by U.S.-owned H.J. Heinz and the British company Cow and Gate."Heinz (officials) have not paid any blackmail money. Nor will they do so," a company statement said. "Heinz has always insisted that public safety is paramount. The safety of babies is our overriding concern."
But a spokeswoman for Cow and Gate said the company "has not received any threats of blackmail or threats of any other nature."
Scotland Yard's Regional Crime Squad said the two companies offered a $169,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the contamination.
According to one member of Parliament, the baby food was tampered with after it left the factories.
At the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, about 170 miles southwest of London, Peter Vicery, manager of the pediatric unit, said a 6-month-old girl had spent the night in the hospital after she was thought to have swallowed glass in her baby food. She left the hospital Thursday when no glass was found in her system.