AUSTIN, Minn. — State officials said Sunday that they are investigating "fairly widespread" tampering of Hormel meat products, while the governor ordered reinforcements for National Guard troops sent to guard the company's strikebound plant.
Agriculture Commissioner Jim Nichols said in an interview from St. Paul that pieces of single-edged razor blades were found in two packages of Hormel Frank-N-Stuff chili-filled hot dogs Thursday.
In addition, inspectors found "fairly widespread" instances of punctured cans of Hormel Spam or chili and ripped packages of Hormel bacon and other meat products, Nichols said.
All the tampering appeared to have been done inside the suburban Twin Cities supermarkets where it was discovered, Nichols said.
WUSA-TV of Minneapolis reported Sunday that "unfair labor" stickers had been placed near Hormel products at West St. Paul supermarkets, and that opener keys had been ripped off some cans of meat.
A woman who answered the phone Sunday night at the union hall of striking Local P-9 of the United Food and Commercial Workers said officials were not available for comment, but said the meatpackers' local did not condone the tampering and was not involved.
'Sick, Deranged Mind'
"We feel someone with a very sick, deranged mind is probably doing this kind of thing," said the woman, who would not give her name but said she was the wife of a striking worker.
Deryl Arnold, manager of Hormel's Austin plant, said he had no knowledge of the tampering.
About 1,500 Hormel workers have been on strike since Aug. 17. The dispute began after the company cut wages by 23% in October, 1984, lowering the base wage from $10.69 to $8.25 an hour. An arbitrator's ruling increased the base rate to $9.25 an hour shortly before the strike began.