Since September, animal rights extremists including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the terrorism-minded Animal Liberation Front have been campaigning against POM Wonderful — a popular pomegranate juice company based in Los Angeles. Their gripe: POM commissions medical research using rats and mice to test the health benefits of its juice. Never mind that studies like these have shown that pomegranate juice can help protect against heart disease, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and even some brain injuries. Animal activists are siding with the rodents. And as usual, they’ve been less than civil: According to a December 19 POM press release, “masked protesters have stalked POM employees at their homes, screaming profanities and threats of violence and terrorizing their young children.

Fortunately, a California State Court issued an injunction in November barring protesters from harassing the company’s employees. But rather than pack up their ski masks and move on, one group of activists decided to up the ante. A group calling itself the Animal Rights Militia now claims it poisoned 487 bottles of POM Wonderful juice in a number of East Coast grocery stores.

Five days later, no one has gotten ill. The whole thing appears to be a sick hoax. But one of the targeted grocers — Wild Oats Markets — pulled POM juice from seven of its stores to “make sure the product is safe.” While we can’t blame them for being cautious, a move like that sets a dangerous precedent which may induce more lunatics (armed, perhaps, with more than a laptop and an 8th-grade vocabulary) to criminally turn food businesses into PR pawns.