October 14, 2008 / 3:57 PM / 9 years ago

Don't eat those nuts, police warn thieves

<p>Revelers participate in a hazelnut battle near Ciutadella's Town Hall during Menorca's traditional Fiesta of San Joan June 23, 2005.Dani Cardona</p>

BERLIN (Reuters) - Thieves who stole 660 pounds of hazelnuts in Germany have been urgently warned not to eat them.

Hamburg police spokesman Holger Vehren said the sacks containing the nuts were full of poisonous hydrogen phosphate gas, used to extend their shelf life. The nuts must first be treated to make them safe for consumption.

"We're looking for the perpetrators because they could face a very serious health risk if they eat these hazelnuts," he said. "The gas is even lethal if they inhale it."

Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Mark Trevelyan

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