Tainted Coffee Poisons Harvard Researchers


Harvard University Medical School has released information on an investigation involving six students and scientists who were poisoned by tainted coffee on Aug. 26. According to a toxicologist, the poisoning was not accidental.

Shortly after drinking the tainted coffee, the victims reported symptoms such as dizziness and low blood pressure, according to the Boston Herald. All six victims required hospitalization but were later released. The coffee was allegedly tainted with sodium azide, a highly toxic chemical. Harvard is installing new surveillance cameras and tightening security in the research building.

Harvard released an internal memo nearly two months after the incident occurred. The victims drank coffee from a communal, single-serve machine.

According to David M. Benjamin, a toxicologist and Chestnut Hill-based clinical pharmacologist, the poisoning was “absolutely not” an accident, reports the Boston Herald.

According to the news report, sodium azide was also used in a string of coffee and tea poisoning incidents in Japan a decade ago. In one incident, the chief internist of a Kyoto hospital was found guilty of lacing the green tea ingested by seven fellow doctors with the chemical.

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