Product tampering, as detailed by the Federal Anti-Tampering Act of 1983 (1), is a felony punishable by both fine and imprisonment. The rationale for product tampering ranges from pranks and attention seeking acts to extortion, terrorism, and homicide. One such case submitted for analysis involved four medical syringes found in a supermarket and suspected of being used to tamper with various products. One of the syringes was found piercing a pear while the other three syringes were found with needles exposed in other parts of the supermarket. Microscopic analysis was used to collect residue from the syringe barrels and the pear. A multidiscipline approach involving SLM, PLM, including microchemical analysis, FTIR, and GC/MS analyses, performed on the residual liquid found in the syringe barrels and in the suspect pear, confirmed the presence of cocaine. This multidisciplinary approach is often necessary when there is a possible health risk to the public and rapid response is important. With this approach, it was quickly determined which drugs or poisons were used in this tampering.
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