Perhaps you saw the viral video last month of a woman licking out of a pint of ice cream and then putting it back in the freezer at the store. The Internet was furious! Many of us also learned how serious it is to tamper with consumer food. It is a second-degree felony that could land you in jail for anywhere from 2-20 years and you may be facing $10,000 in fines. Unfortunately, the practice is relatively common.
A number of cases are now being investigated by police of people who are emptying out cans of baby formula and returning it to the store with flour inside. They are doing it to sell the stolen formula. Some of the products that have been tampered in this way are showing up on the shelves again and WCNC reports that babies are getting sick.
Madeline Roque of Phoenix, Arizona discussed the issue. Adeline, her nine-month-old daughter, is thought to have fallen victim to this problem. She claims that Adeline started crying and vomiting after a recent feeding and refused to take her bottle.
“She was throwing up throughout the day passing a lot of gas…I just knew something was wrong,” Roque said.
When she looked at the formula, she knew that something was wrong. “I looked at the milk and I realize something’s definitely weird, the color is different, the texture was different,” Roque said.
After leaving the formula stand, she noticed that it separated but her regular baby formula never had that issue.
“And then when I poured it the bottle into the sink I saw how it got, that’s when it hit me,” Roque said. “I saw how it clumped up and I’m like oh my god my daughter’s stomach is just the same or worse.”
Walmart was notified and they told NBC Charlotte that they don’t put products back on the shelves when they are returned according to store policy. They are investigating this incident along with the police.
WCNC also found a number of claims that are being investigated by customers at Walmart and CVS in recent years. In a number of cases, baby formula that was tampered with made it back on the shelves and was repurchased.
This isn’t the first time that this issue was seen. An Arizona woman pleaded guilty in 2017 to buying baby formula and putting a mixture of flour and sugar back in the can before returning it and getting her cashback.
30-year-old Jennifer LaPlante pleaded guilty to felony charges of fraudulent schemes and child abuse. One child was hospitalized according to authorities because of the scheme.
This wasn’t the first baby that got sick. Another mother last year said she was a victim of the scam.
“It was very clumpy at the bottom none of it had poured out,” the mother said. “Then I noticed the color and consistency was off.”
She tasted it and realized it was flour. “You don’t know they’re allergic. What if her throat had closed up from a gluten reaction?” she added.
In most cases, a store will restock food items that have been returned but you should be cautious to look carefully for tampering when you purchase any food for your children.