Volume 42, Issue 6 (November 1997)
A False Report of Product Tampering Involving a Rodent and Soft Drink Can: Light Microscopy, Image Analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis
The “Pepsi® Tamperings” of 1993 resulted in a large number of cases involving foreign objects reportedly found inside canned soft drinks. Although the majority of cases involved medical syringes and metallic objects, one case involved the report of a mouse found inside a can of Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi. Using light and polarized light microscopy and computer-assisted image analysis, trace evidence and tooth structure from the suspect mouse were matched to scratches and indentions on the suspect can. Scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis were used to compare and match particles of gnawed metal from the lid of the suspect can to other particles recovered from the muzzle and stomach of the suspect mouse. The forensic analyses in this case proved the mouse could not have been canned in the soft drink product and refuted the defendant's sworn statements.