Blue Bell ice cream licker in viral video is found, Texas police say

In the video, a teenage girl can be seen removing the tub of ice cream from a store freezer, lifting the lid, licking the top of the ice cream, then closing the lid and putting the container back before walking away.
In the video, a teenage girl can be seen removing the tub of ice cream from a store freezer, lifting the lid, licking the top of the ice cream, then closing the lid and putting the container back before walking away.PHOTO: @TAMIETROUBLE2 / TWITTER

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - In a freezer at the Police Department in Lufkin, Texas, there is a half-gallon container of Blue Bell ice cream in an evidence bag - Exhibit A from a cringe-inducing video that drew widespread attention.

In the video, a teenage girl can be seen removing the tub of ice cream from a store freezer, lifting the lid, licking the top of the ice cream, then closing the lid and putting the container back before walking away.

Soon after the video was posted to Instagram, on June 28, social media erupted in shock and disgust.

Some posted copycat videos on Twitter, and others implored Blue Bell to use tamper-resistant foil under the lids of its ice-cream tubs.

In an e-mailed statement, Blue Bell said it identified a Walmart in Lufkin, about 193km north-east of Houston, "as the store where the malicious act of food tampering took place".

The company, whose headquarters in Brenham, Texas, said in the statement that it believed it had recovered the half-gallon tub that was tampered with.

"Out of an abundance of caution," the company said, it removed that tub and all ice creams of the same flavour - Tin Roof - from the store.

Last Friday, police in Lufkin found the girl, who is 17; they did not publicly identify her.

Because of her age, charges, if any, would be handled by the juvenile justice system, a Police Department spokeswoman, Ms Jessica Pebsworth, said.

Identifying the girl was made all the more difficult for police by the number of imitators who quickly sprang up.

Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch, an infectious-diseases specialist at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, said last Saturday that the ice-cream licking put others at risk.

There are many viruses that can be passed on through saliva, such as mononucleosis, he said.

The risk may have been partly diminished because of the ice cream's low temperature and high sugar content, he said.

Freezing could cause the water in bacteria to freeze and expand, destroying the bacteria, and sugar could leach water out of the bacteria, he said.

In a statement on Saturday, Blue Bell said: "Food safety is our top priority, and we work hard to provide a safe product and maintain the highest level of confidence from our consumers."