Packets of cooked chicken breast were among items seized by police as a man faced questioning over allegedly contaminating supermarket products.
Officers in forensic suits were seen in Fulham Palace Road, in west London on Thursday as three stores – a Tesco Express Little Waitrose and Sainsbury’s Local – remained closed following reports the suspect was injecting food with needles.
Evidence bags marked “caution health hazard” and filled with products including cooked chicken slices were seen on the pavement outside the Tesco store.
The Metropolitan Police said it is not known how many items have been contaminated, or with what substance, but the affected items are believed to be processed meat and microwaveable products.
Officers were alerted at around 7.40pm on Wednesday after a man was reported to be shouting abuse at people in the street, the force said, adding the suspect had been taken into custody on suspicion of contamination of goods with the intention of causing public harm or anxiety.
Shani Samet said she was sitting in the back of the Avanti tapas restaurant she co-owns on Fulham Palace Road when she heard a loud bang and saw a man swearing at a waiter before throwing a plant pot at him.
Ms Samet said: “He could’ve cracked somebody’s brain open.”
We had a few customers inside so they were in shock when they heard the boom. Everyone was worried, everyone was looking about asking what happened
Waiter Eder Sevilla
Waiter Eder Sevilla said: “A guy walked in and picked up the plant pot and threw it at me in the main part of the restaurant and he was just swearing at me and then he walked away.
“He didn’t look right… He was swearing at me and was a little bit shaking.
“We had a few customers inside so they were in shock when they heard the boom. Everyone was worried, everyone was looking about asking what happened”.
One local Georgie Ivanov, 44, who is a regular shopper at the supermarkets, said: “We moved here because it was a quiet area and safe.
“I’m afraid for my kids because we are receiving news feeds from the Metropolitan Police and they say that crime is rising here in this setting.”
When asked if the rise in crime would prompt him to move elsewhere, Mr Ivanov said: “I think so, yes.”
Hammersmith and Fulham Council issued an “emergency alert” notice on its social media accounts on Wednesday evening.
It said: “Members of the public are advised as a precaution to dispose of any food items bought from these supermarkets this evening.
“H&F Council’s Environmental Health team are now working with the supermarket branches affected.”