[OPINION] Tampering with Our Food is a Crime!

Thanks to social media, it seems a new fad or trend emerges every other month. From dance moves to trying the hottest chili peppers, there is no end. One trend, however, recently came to light that’s not at all cool or fun–it’s actually a crime. Opening food products before purchase, tasting them and placing them back on the shelf can land you a hefty jail sentence.

It seems that daily over the past two weeks, stores like Target and Walmart have shown up in viral postings in which someone enters a store, takes a food item, opens it, tastes it and places the item back on the shelf.

In one video recording, a man opens a bottle of mouthwash, takes a mouthful, then spits it back into the bottle and places it back on the shelf.

More notoriously, a woman in Texas, now known as the “Lufkin licker,” recorded herself removing the lid from a quart of Blue Bell ice cream. She licks the ice cream then puts the lid back on and returns it to the freezer. In both cases, the videos show the person walking away from the area without the product.

Another video shows a man opening a gallon of Arizona Tea and spitting in it before returning it to the shelf.

Did these people pay for the items off camera? We don’t know.

In most states, tampering with food products is a felony crime and could carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. While some may consider these acts fun, it’s clear that they’ve instilled a lot of fear in communities across the U.S.

Law enforcement across the country have launched investigations. Some of the culprits have been identified and others, including the Lufkin licker, were arrested.


Consumer Product Tampering Punishment

States like Florida and Texas carry stiff penalties for someone found guilty of tampering with food products, depending on the act.

According to Florida State Statutes 501.001, there are four types of Consumer Product Tampering in Florida:

  • Reckless tampering, which is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison;
  • Tampering causing serious business injury and reporting false information of tampering, both of which are second degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison; and
  • Threatening to tamper, which is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Laughs are always great, but when the cost of those laughs bring a fear that spreads throughout communities it’s a big problem–big enough to catch the attention of the federal government.

Getting likes on YouTube or Instagram can be very costly and one should really consider the consequences before he or she acts. In most cases, the people involved were adults who were smiling on camera while committing the crime.

At this point, it’s safe to say we’ve all heard about this trend and pretty much aware that it’s serious. Law enforcement agencies are very aware and have vowed to arrest anyone caught tampering with any food product.

As a word of caution, please examine your items closely to make sure the seals have not been broken or tabs removed.


Jim Randle is a law enforcement expert and Florida National News contributor. |

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