FIVE THINGS: What you need to know about case of contaminated ba - Tucson News Now


FIVE THINGS: What you need to know about case of contaminated baby formula in Tucson

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A woman has been accused of contaminating baby formula and returning it to several stores on Tucson's east side.

The Tucson Police Department hosted a late night news conference Thursday to warn residents to be on their guard.

Here are the top five things you need to know.

The Suspect

Jennifer Laplante, 30, has been arrested on charges of child endangerment and fraudulent schemes. She could face more charges, according to the TPD.

Laplante is being held in the Pima County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

The TPD said she bought the formula, replaced it with flour, sugar and rice cereal, resealed the cans and returned them to the store for a refund.

One child had to be treated at the hospital after digesting the tainted formula. The child was released May 5 and is in good condition, according to the Associated Press. The TPD did not say how the victim was connected to Laplante.

The Locations

Police said Laplante returned formula from several stores on Tucson's east side, including:

• Fry's, 7050 East 22nd St.

• Fry's, 9401 East 22nd St.

• Walmart, 8640 Broadway Blvd.

• Walmart, 7150 East Speedway.

On Friday the TPD confirmed the formula that made the child sick was sold at the Fry's at 7050 E. 22nd St.

There could be other possible stores where the tainted product was returned, but the TPD has not released those locations yet.

"In abundance of caution, I would suggest that where ever parents are purchasing this product, they give it an added level of scrutiny," said TPD Chief Chris Magnus said. "We cannot rule out that there are other locations where this type of activity has gone on."

The TPD said the have removed any old stock of formula from the shelves and replaced it with new formula. The detectives are still conducting searches to verify any and all returns Ms. Laplante conducted.

How Did This Happen?

Most super markets either refuse to accept baby formula returns or have policies against restocking these items when they are returned.

Officials at Arkansas-based Wal-Mart told the Associated Press they don't restock baby formula and are "deeply disturbed" by the Tucson incident.

"Like everyone else, we are deeply disturbed by this situation and take it very seriously," a Walmart spokesperson told Tucson News Now "Our customers deserve safe, quality foods, and we have policies in place to help ensure that returned baby formula is not put back on our shelves. We are working with local law enforcement, and because this an ongoing investigation, we must refer all other questions to them."

A spokesman for Fry's said they also do not restock baby formula.

"Once it's returned to our stores for an exchange or refund, it will immediately be stickered with a 'Not for Resale' label and then it will be disposed of."

The Fry's spokesperson said they have checked other baby formulas on the shelf to make sure they are safe.

"We checked all the other brands of baby formula to make sure there wasn't any other tampering just as a precaution," the spokesperson said.

The Formula

Police said anyone who uses Gerber Good Start Soy powdered formula should be extra careful.

But the TPD also warned that Laplante may have tampered with other brands as well.

If you bought the formula from one of the stores, the TPD said you should:

• Examine the container carefully.

• If it lacks a seal or the seal is broke, don't use it.

• If it smells funny or different, don't use it.

What To Do Now

Anyone with questionable formula is asked to bring it to the Tucson Police Department for testing.

Authorities said parents should not throw it out or try to return it to the store. Instead, they are asking parents to drop it off at their evidence facility, located at 945 East Ohio St.

The TPD, FDA and Pima County Health Department are participating in the investigation. Anyone with questions or information should call the TPD at 520-791-5059.

Why Did She Do It?

While Laplante has not spoken public about the case yet, police said she was apparently motivated by money.

They said the alleged scheme took place over at least several days and possibly for up to two months. The formula was either purchased or stolen, police said.

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