Just last month a video of a woman licking the top of a pint of ice cream went viral, with the Internet united in universal disgust. And while tampering with consumer food is a second-degree felony carrying between two and 20 years behind bars and as much as $10,000 in fines, the practice is unfortunately far from uncommon.
Police are now investigating several cases of people swapping baby formula with flour and returning it to stores to get their money back and sell on the stolen formula. Unfortunately, some of those tampered products are making it back on to shelves according to WCNC, and it's making babies sick.
The outlet recently spoke with Madeline Roque of Phoenix, Arizona, whose 9-month-old daughter, Adeline, is believed to have fallen victim to the scam. Roque claims that after a recent feeding, Adeline began crying, vomiting, and refusing her bottle.
"She was throwing up throughout the day passing a lot of gas ... I just knew something was wrong," Roque said.
Roque took a look at the formula and noticed that it didn't look right. "I looked at the milk and I realize something's definitely weird, the color is different, the texture was different," Roque said.
She left the formula to stand for a while, and noticed that it separated, something her baby formula never did.
"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."
Roque notified Walmart, who told NBC Charlotte that store policy is not to put any returned products back on shelves. Walmart is working with police to investigate the incident.
WCNC also found several cases of stores like Walmart and CVS investigating similar claims by customers over the last few years. WCNC Defenders claim that in several cases, tampered baby formula made it back onto shelves for people to purchase.
This practice has been seen before. In 2017, an Arizona woman pleaded guilty to buying baby formula and replacing it with a mixture of flour and sugar before returning it for cash.
Jennifer LaPlante, 30, pleaded guilty to felony charges of child abuse and fraudulent schemes. Authorities said that one child was hospitalised as a result of the scheme.
And it wouldn't be the first time a baby has gotten sick either. Last year, another mom said she had fallen victim to the scam according to WCNC.
"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, if her throat had closed up from a gluten reaction," she added.
While most stores won't restock returned food items, parents should be careful and look for any sign of tampering when they purchase food for their children.
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