According to CBS, the Department of Homeland Security met with corporate security officers from various hotel and restaurant chains last month to brief them about a possible Al Qaeda threat involving poisoning buffets and salad bars around the country with ricin and cyanide. The threat comes from the same group that recently tried to set off bombs aboard cargo planes along the eastern seaboard.
The goal of the plot is to disrupt our already troubled economy and it would be fairly easy to pull off as it takes only a small amount of ricin to kill an adult.
While this plot is emblematic of the fact that there is an ongoing effort on the part of terrorists to harm American citizens and disrupt our economy, I don’t think it is cause to panic and stop eating in restaurants. Personally, I wouldn’t eat at a buffet where people serve themselves while sneezing and poking at the food with their grubby, unwashed hands anyway…poisoned or not. But regardless of how you feel about the concept of salad bars and buffets in general, they are not the most effective way to spread a poison to a large number of people. Even if such a plot were to be effective, your odds of being personally affected by something like this are probably much less than being struck by lightening.