04 June 2004

Hoax, Coincidence, or a Warning?

Days ago, local Gerber products were recalled following reports of alleged tampering. Gerber people reported receiving an email from a certain Mateu Orfila, which said:
"Twenty-five bottles of Gerber baby food were mixed with a substance in quantities that could kill an average-size Filipino. Imagine what it could do to a six-month old baby... After which it's only a matter of time before a baby born to an upper middle class family will die of arsenic poisoning."

The scare has so far reached Baguio City and massive recall of Gerber products from stores and supermarkets had been undertaken. Last night, fortunately, the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) has announced on late night TV news that when the recalled products were tested, no traces of arsenic were found. Whew!

You would say it's probably just a prank. But wait. What's this news from the Los Angeles Times about an Orange County couple finding a note from the baby food of their 9-month-old daughter? Guess what the baby product was? Yes, it's Gerber. It was a Gerber banana dessert blend. This incident happened at about the same time that news of Gerber products here in the Philippines were also tainted.

Pure coincidence? You tell me.

Since we are in the discussion of baby food contaminants, check out also this equally "coincidental" report from the New Scientist, which says,
"An extensive survey of baby foods has found they contain worrying levels of disease-causing microbes. Of most concern was the presence of a bacterium called Enterobacter sakazakii, which has been linked to a handful of fatal outbreaks of meningitis at children's hospitals in the US and Europe."

I hope the Al-Qaeda lackeys of Bin Laden are not behind these scaring tactics. I also pray they aren't just rehearsing for some grand massacre of babies. Targeting babies and the act of killing them, I think, is really the ultimate act of cowardice.

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