ELIZABETH, N.J. -- The FBI was called in to investigate a case of possible baby-food tampering at a ShopRite Supermarket here.
The store pulled all baby foods from the shelf on Wednesday, May 27, as a precautionary measure, after receiving a warning that someone had tampered with the Gerber baby food jars. By Friday the FBI had tested all of the baby food in the store and concluded that no tampering had taken place.
"The recall was confined to that one store," said Malesia Webb-Dunn, a spokeswoman for Fremont, Mich.-based Gerber Products. Further details about the threat were not revealed because the case is still under FBI investigation.
"With anything like this you have to take it very seriously, which we did, whether it is true or not. Our No. 1 issue is to make sure our customers are safe, which is why we worked with the FBI and they actually had the product removed," she said.
When SN visited the West Grand Street store on Thursday, May 28, all baby-food products in the store had been removed.
Announcements were continuously made over the P.A. system in both English and Spanish, which told shoppers that any Gerber baby food purchased within the last three days should be returned to the store for either a replacement or refund.
A heavier police presence than normal in both the store and its parking lot was also witnessed by SN during the visit.
Mary Ellen Gowin, vice president, public relations, at Wakefern Food Corp., the cooperative wholesaler here that supplies ShopRite stores, said media reports helped ShopRite get the word out to the public to return the food and not use any boxes that were opened or jars that had their lids "popped."
"We had people at the store bringing the product back. We feel confident that people heard the message and that is what is important," she said.
Gowin said Beechnut and other brands were also completely replaced on the shelf by Thursday evening, while fresh Gerber product was reordered on Friday.