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SEATTLE - An anonymous letter sent to a Port Angeles, Wash., Safeway store threatening of tampered supermarket products is being tested at the state public health laboratory for bacterial contaminants at the request of the FBI, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports.
"We don't believe there's any terrorist activity involved," said Ray Lauer, spokesman for the Seattle office of the FBI. Lauer declined to provide details of the investigation but did say the letter contained no suspicious white powder and was not being tested for anthrax.
A top Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official on Saturday said that the tampering concerns being investigated by his agency and the FBI are limited to Safeway stores in Western Washington.
Tim Church, spokesman for the state Department of Health, said the researchers were attempting to identify bacterial or other potential contaminants in the letter. Church said the test results could take from hours to days, depending on the bug of interest and the methods used.
According to local reports, a letter sent last Thursday to a Safeway grocery store just east of Port Angeles on U.S. Route 101 made threats and claimed to have tampered with products. Sources said the FBI had questioned employees of the store and planned to fingerprint them.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded by issuing a general warning to consumers to report any supermarket products that appear to have been tampered with or punctured. The FDA said no tampered products have been discovered.
Charles Breen, director of the FDA's regional headquarters in Bothell, said both tampering with and threatening to tamper with food products are crimes.
"Part of this investigation will be to determine who is responsible for this letter," Breen said.