Woman Licks Ice Cream in Walmart Store and Puts It Back in Display Fridge, Faces 20 Years in Prison

Woman Licks Ice Cream in Walmart Store and Puts It Back in Display Fridge, Faces 20 Years in Prison
Picture of the suspect released by the police as she entered into the Walmart store where the food tampering took place. (Lufkin Police and Fire)
Venus Upadhayaya

A woman who licked a tub of ice cream in a Walmart store in Texas before putting the violated dessert back in the fridge may face up to 20 years in prison. A video of the act went viral on Twitter and led to public outrage and even a response from the ice cream company—Blue Bell.

The video was shared on Twitter by Optimus Primal on June 29 and at the time of this publication, it has been viewed 11.6 million times and had nearly 66,000 likes and 28,000 retweets.

It shows a young woman wearing a burgundy-striped shirt licking the surface of a Blue Bell ice cream and putting the tampered frozen dessert back into the fridge. A man’s voice in the background can be heard encouraging her throughout the 9-second video.

According to NBC News, the food tampering took place in a Walmart store in Lufkin, eastern Texas, and the police said on Thursday the woman may face a second-degree felony charge that comes with 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The Lufkin Police and Fire said in a media release on its Facebook page that “detectives had obtained surveillance video placing a woman matching the suspect description in the Lufkin store on June 28 around 11 p.m.”

Police will issue an arrest warrant once her identity is verified. "Our detectives are working to verify the identity of the female suspect before a warrant is issued for her arrest on a charge of second-degree felony tampering with a consumer product,” a police spokesperson told NBC News.

The media reports that police also plan to talk to the man who’s heard encouraging her in the video. “As that portion of the investigation continues, detectives are focusing on identifying the male (in the green shirt) behind the camera seen in images of the two entering the store together,” the police said.

The Lufkin Police and Fire have shared a picture of the suspect with a man seen entering the store together.

The Blue Bell ice creams have released a public statement and called it a “malicious act of food tampering.”

“Our staff recognized the location in the video, and we inspected the freezer case. We found a Tin Roof half gallon that appears to have been compromised.

“Based on security footage, the location and the inspection of the carton, we believe we may have recovered the half gallon that was tampered with. Out of an abundance of caution, we have also removed all Tin Roof half gallons from that location,” Blue Bell said in the public statement.

Blue said that the safety of its ice cream is its highest priority and the company works hard to maintain its customer’s confidence.

“Food tampering is not a joke, and we will not tolerate tampering with our products. We are grateful to the customers who alerted us and provided us with information,” said Blue Bell.

Lufkin Director of Public Safety Gerald Williamson said in the statement released by the Lufkin Police and Fire that he is happy with Blue Bell’s response.

“Our biggest concern is consumer safety–in that regard we are glad to see the tainted product off the shelves,” Williamson said in the release.

People responded to Lufkin Police and Fire’s post on Facebook with shock and concern.

“Give her a tour of every step from Dairy farmer, through production, and then to stocking the coolers and show her what all it takes to make that ice cream she did that to and the livelihood of people responsible. Who knows?... Maybe it will inspire better choices,” responded Chrystal Weisse.

“Blue Bell will make sure something is done. She has negatively affected their sales and caused health risks,” wrote Dena Armstrong Rodriguez.

“Thinking ice cream companies need to start wrapping or sealing so your able to tell if ice cream has been tampered with,” said Charlotte Bridges Harrison.

Venus Upadhayaya reports on India, China, and the Global South. Her traditional area of expertise is in Indian and South Asian geopolitics. Community media, sustainable development, and leadership remain her other areas of interest.
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