A Little Piece of Foil That Foiled Crime
Looking at a simple ketchup bottle, you can find a tiny piece of foil that separates the ketchup in it from the outside world. Knowing that this foil protected the ketchup, we can safely say that the ketchup was untouched from the moment it left its factory, unpacked, stacked onto the store shelf until a buyer came, bought it and unsealed it to pour it out. This little foil has bought us a piece of mind that assure us no one has disturbed its content.
Sealed Tea Bottle
To understand why does this seal comes to exist, we must look back to 1980’s, where there were no requirements for any common products to come with a seal or tamper-evident methods for packaging. As these products were openly available to the everyday consumers, there were no bars or walls to stop those who seek to harm them. On 29 September 1982, three people died in Chicago due to ingestion of cyanide-laced Tylenol which further led to another seven more lives days later. They immediately placed a massive recall of the Tylenol that were in the market. Sadly, this has already led an onset of copycat attacks with other medications and products throughout United States. The US Congress pass the Tylenol bill in 1983 that made it a federal offense to tamper with consumer products. Later in 1989, the FDA established extensive guidelines for manufacturers for tamper-proof packaging.
Cases of Product Tampering
- Jello-O Pudding 2010, USA
- Sizzler Restaurant 2006, Australia
- Ground Beef 2003, USA (111 Poisoned)
- Fentanyl 1998, United Arab Emirates
- Baby Food 1986, UK
- Strawberry 2018, Australia (2 Victims)
- Oronamin C 1985, Japan (8 Deaths)
From this horrific incident, the foil seal emerged. Along with other tamper-evident and protection features, medications, food and cosmetics were protected from foul play. Even though with guidelines in place and laws that punish such acts, product tampering still exist today as many products doesn’t have tampering preventions. In 2003, mineral bottles were injected near the mouth with bleach and acetone by a perpetrator in Italy. Even during the current pandemics, cases of tampering are still occurring. In just April 2020 at the US-Mexico border, 900 bottles of cleaning products were seized as they were shipped to the US as they were heavily diluted with water which made them ineffective.
| The Tylenol killer has not been caught since then. |
As the mass media shine on such news, more copycats of such act became more frequent. With today’s platforms and social media, these actions of tampering are more easily propagated to a larger crowd which sprouts more copycats. As such case like the “#icecreamchallenge” where people were licking the ice cream in the tubs and placing it back onto the shelf. With the video posts on many different platforms, this trend became viral and controversial. The combination of both sprouted copycats hoping to catch attention through notoriety. Many incidents later involving people contaminating products in stores have pop up everywhere in hopes to be famous.
On the wise, pay close attention to your products’ packaging and choose carefully. A single foil seal acts as a barrier with the ability to adhere tightly to the container, contain the product and accomplishes as the final defense against all, will reassure that the product is safe and its quality maintained.