- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2006

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Giant Food Stores Inc. pulled thousands of cans of soup from store shelves in six states, including in the Washington area, after a customer reported finding a rusty sewing needle in a sealed can of minestrone over the weekend.

It was at least the fourth report in the past two weeks of food tampering at supermarkets in the Lehigh Valley, a densely populated region that includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.

The soup, Progresso Vegetable Classics Minestrone, was bought Saturday at a Giant Food Store in Wind Gap. Spokesman Dennis Hopkins said cans of Progresso minestrone have been removed from all 255 of the chain’s stores as a precaution. He said the chain also was increasing its undercover security until further notice.

David King, who bought the soup, said his wife had finished half of her portion when she spotted the inch-long sewing needle in the bowl. Mr. King immediately called the store, and gave the needle, the lid and the can to a store manager.

The couple worries the soup might have been contaminated.

“At this point, we’re just playing wait and see, and hopefully nothing will come of it,” said Mr. King, 44, who works at the Sanofi-Pasteur pharmaceutical company. “We’re just lucky that nobody swallowed it, that we found it before it got into somebody’s stomach.”

The region’s first case of food tampering was reported Jan. 17, when employees of a King’s Supermarket in Bethlehem found straight pins in two packages of ground beef and a ham.

The same day, a customer said he found a straight pin in an onion he had purchased from the store.

Last week, a customer at a Giant supermarket near Bethlehem reported finding a rusty sewing needle in a loaf of bread.

The Food and Drug Administration has joined local authorities in the investigation.

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