Product tampering is intriguing from a criminological perspective because motives behind tampering span such a diverse spectrum – from terrorism, corporate sabotage and extortion, to petty theft and malicious mischief. Tampering cases can also be difficult to prosecute, especially if the crime seems to be a random act with no readily identifiable motive. Finally, whereas most other crimes have a distinct upward or downward trend over a long period, reports of tampering tend to spike immediately after tampering incidents are publicized in the media. Not only is a paranoid public more likely to suffer psychosomatic symptoms, but news of tampering usually triggers copycat offenders.
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The most infamous case of product tampering is the Tylenol crisis of 1982, in which seven people in the Chicago area died after taking what they thought was extra-strength Tylenol but was, in fact, potassium cyanide. The case is still unsolved. In addition to the death toll, what makes this case remarkable is that it led to tough anti-tampering laws, as well as a massive shift in how consumer goods are packaged; rarely will you find a packaged food product or drug today that doesn’t have tamper-resistant or tamper-evident seals.Sadly, the Tylenol case prompted a series of copycats. In a 1988 case, Stella Nickell killed her husband with cyanide-laced Excedrin and then put the tainted pills on a store shelf to divert suspicion. Susan Katherine Snow died as a result.
The four children of the Bergs family in the Netherlands were rewarded with Jaffa oranges for dessert but were alarmed by the fruit’s strange taste. When the family took a closer look, they saw silver globules in the oranges, and the parents rushed the kids to the hospital to have their stomachs pumped. A Palestinian militant group that called itself the Arab Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility, telling the Dutch government that it had injected citrus fruit from Israel with mercury in order to induce panic and disrupt Israel’s economy. The tampering likely took place at a European distribution centre; tainted citrus fruit showed up in Germany, Spain, Belgium, England and Morocco.
Another politically motivated, fruit tampering case surfaced two decades later, when the Public Health Inspection service in the U.S. received a call from someone claiming that Chilean fruit had been laced with cyanide, in a campaign to draw attention to the living conditions of the poor under the Augusto Pinochet government. A sample of grapes exported to the Port of Philadelphia tested positive for cyanide, and the Food and Drug Administration detained all Chilean fruit. In the end, 4,781,361 cases of fruit had been examined before Chilean authorities took over responsibility for inspecting fruit before it was exported.
On March 19, 1984, two armed, masked men broke into the home of Katsuhisa Ezaki, president of the Glico confectionery company in Japan, tied up his family, and abducted him. The next morning, they contacted the director of the company in Takatsuki city and demanded a ransom of 1 billion yen and 100 kg of gold bullion. Ezaki managed to escape from his captors three days later, but the story didn’t end there. Two months later, Glico began receiving letters from a person or group calling itself “The Monster with 21 Faces” that claimed to have contaminated Glico candies with potassium cyanide. None of the tainted candies were found, and eventually, the Monster with the 21 Faces turned its attention to another confectionary, Morinaga.See Also:- Ideal Coastline Share “Various Light-weight” From Upcoming LP
In an open letter set to Osaka news agencies, the Monster told the “moms of the nation” that it had laced twenty packages of Morinaga candy with cyanide. Police discovered tainted packages of Morinaga Choco Balls and Angel Pie in stores before anyone was poisoned; the perpetrators had stuck on labels that read “Danger: Contains Toxins.” Unable to capture the individual or group behind the tampering crimes, the police superintendent of the Shiga Prefecture committed suicide by self-immolation in 1985. After his death, the Monster issued one last letter to the public, commenting on the suicide, and was never heard from again. The case remains unsolved.