I scream, you scream. Texans have all been screaming for ice cream in recent weeks after a video on social media showed a woman opening a half-gallon of Blue Bell ice cream at Wal-Mart, licking it and returning it back to the freezer.
When the video first went viral, Blue Bell released a statement on Twitter to ensure customers the incident was being investigated.
“We want to thank our consumers for alerting us to this recent food tampering incident. We take this issue very seriously and are currently working with the appropriate authorities.”
The suspect, through social media, was identified as a teen from San Antonio.
That lead San Antonio law enforcement to believe it was one of their Wal-Mart stores, but a store display case matching the one in the video could not be found.
The search then went to Houston Wal-Mart stores after investigators learned the identified woman was possibly living with a boyfriend in that area. Again, a store display case matching the one in the video could not be found.
Blue Bell instructed all of its division managers to see if they could identify the store location. Within an hour of the corporate plea, a Lufkin division manager called saying he believed it was Lufkin Wal-Mart. He based this on the store’s unique merchandising which matched the video.
At 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Blue Bell contacted Lufkin police, saying they believed the viral video took place in the Lufkin Wal-Mart store and they had retrieved what they believed to be the tainted container of ice cream.
By 4 p.m., detectives had obtained surveillance video placing a woman matching the suspect description in the Lufkin store on June 28 around 11 p.m.
Jessica Pebsworth, who is the public relations specialist for the Lufkin Police Department, said the suspect’s name cannot be released.
“Because she is a juvenile offender, her identity is protected under section 58.104 of the Texas Family Code,” Pebsworth said. “The case will be turned over to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
“We do not intend to pursue charges against her as an ‘adult’ and therefore what happens from here is at the discretion of the juvenile justice system. I cannot speak for them as to what charge she will face in the juvenile justice system.”
Readers shared their thoughts on the incident on the Times-Review Facebook page.
Penny Atkins said the suspect needs to be tried as an adult.
“She’s old enough to know better!” she said. “The person who videoed needs to be held accountable, also. Just shows the mentality of society nowadays — let’s do everything for a laugh, who cares if it endangers, shames, offends, etc... others! Do the right thing, don’t allow bad behavior!”
Alexander Belton said the suspect should be court-ordered to be tested for infectious diseases.
“And if they fail, they should be charged with either attempted aggravated assault or attempted murder,” he said. “If they pass they should be be heavily fined or face other penalties.”
Anita Ward said the video makes her not want to buy ice cream.
“They need to put a plastic seal around the lids that is tamper proof like the do on dressings and other foods,” she said. “You have to tear the plastic off to open. If seal is broken don’t buy it.”
A customer can usually tell when a food item has been messed with before purchase — a seal is broken; the box is damaged. However, most ice cream cartons don’t have an extra layer of protection, which makes identifying food tampering for those containers a bit more difficult.
“During production, our half gallons are flipped upside down and sent to a hardening room where the ice cream freezes to the lid, creating a natural seal. The lids are frozen tightly to the carton. Any attempt at opening the product should be noticeable,” Blue Bell stated.
Information in this
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