According to a message that is currently circulating via social media, law enforcement and government officials are warning consumers to check the tops of bottled water for possible tampering.
The warning claims that someone is going around injecting poison into the tops of water bottles and that a “few people have already died in the Richmond area”. Supposedly, a sheriff has just made an announcement about the poisonings.
However, there are no credible news or police reports that support the claims in the warning message. The message does not identify which particular “Richmond area” out of several possibilities that it is referring to. Nor does it identify the name or jurisdiction of the sheriff who supposedly made the announcement.
In fact, the message contains no references that might help people confirm the claims or get more information.
Of course, if several people had died after drinking bottled water injected with poison, the story would have been extensively covered by mainstream news media, not only in Richmond but around the world.
There would also be extensive recalls of all potentially affected products. If, as the message suggests, authorities were aware of the deadly contamination they would not simply leave the products on store shelves to poison even more people.
Moreover, if law enforcement and government officials were intent on warning the public about a contamination, they would do so via government websites, official social media channels, and news releases. No such official warnings exist.
They, of course, would not attempt to pass the word around via a vague, confusing, and poorly written Facebook message.
So, the deliberate poisoning campaign described in the message and the supposed deaths caused by it can be safely dismissed as untrue.
The false message may have been derived from an earlier viral Facebook post and video that purportedly depicted a case of bottled water that had punctures through the bottle caps and exterior plastic wrapping. The original post made no mention of poisoning. Police in Bennington Vermont investigated and later published a press release about the incident noting that there did not appear to be any danger to the public.
According to the press release, police did not locate any more bottles of water with punctures at the Walmart store where the water was purchased. It points out that the holes were not noticed until a month after the water had been purchased.
And, two people who consumed the water with the punctured caps did not become ill.
It thus seems likely that the punctured bottle caps may have been the result of a mishap during manufacture, transport, or storage before or after purchase. Or the bottles may have been deliberately punctured, albeit without any poisoning or long term malicious intent being involved.
Certainly, it is wise to check products for potential tampering. However, sharing false food contamination warnings like the message below will help nobody and will only cause unnecessary fear and alarm in communities.
An Example of the Message:
They sent a alert out to all law enforcement and government officials to check the tops of every purchased water bottle because someone is going around injecting poison into the tops of the water to where you dnt recognize that it’s tampered with.. you have to turn the bottle upside down and squeeze before opening it. If it leaks throw it away. A few people have already died in the Richmond area.. the Sheriff just made the announcement.