How to Test for Food Tampering

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Food tampering is a crime. The deliberate modification of food products during preparation, transportation or packaging of food can cause foodborne illness and sometimes even death. Food tampering is a serious health threat. It's critical to not consume tampered food, but to keep it so that it can be further analyzed by authorities. Testing for food tampering isn't an exact science; however, utilizing some tricks and tips can assist you in testing for food tampering.

Things You'll Need

  • Food Item to Be Tested
  • Phone Number for Your State Department Of Health
  • Plastic Wrap

Testing for Food Tampering at Home

  • Check for anything unusual in the packaging. For example, aluminum cans with cracked bulging ends should be avoided. Holes, leaks or any other unusual physical modification should be thoroughly observed. If you suspect foul play, contact the authorities as soon as possible. Do not discard the food item.

  • Examine the food before use. Note any changes in the color, texture or scent. If anything looks or tastes odd, don't continue to eat it.

  • Wrap the food product in plastic wrap, and keep it away from the rest of your food.

  • Call your local health department and report food tampering if you suspect it. They will provide you with further instructions so that you can have your food officially tested. Reporting this can help prevent food poisoning and foodborne illnesses in your community.

Testing for Food Tampering in the Grocery Store

  • Review "sell by" dates. According to the FDA, do not purchase any food item that has expired "sell by" dates. Always purchase within the specified range.

  • Check packaging for rips, tears or anything unusual. Often during transportation, some items can become damaged; however, it is important to look at damaged items to determine if it was deliberately opened or if the damage happened in transport.

  • Analyze anti-tampering devices. Many products come with tabs or plastic locks, allowing managers and consumers to notice if a product has been opened. Pay close attention to the device to ensure it's still intact.

  • Contact your local police department, the FDA and your local health department if you take food home then you find out later suspect that it was tampered food. The toll-free Information Line for the FDA is 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the tampered product was meat or poultry, in addition to the agencies listed above, also call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.
  • Food tampering might become a weapon of choice for terrorists. It's important to share food tampering and testing information with loved ones and to be more vigilant when purchasing food. Most State Health Departments and the FDA recommend purchasing from reputable establishments and avoiding unfamiliar or unknown food sources.

References

  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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