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New Arizona Bill Targets 'Viral Wannabes' Who Tamper With Food, Put It Back On Shelf

T.J. Shope
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
T.J. Shope

You might have seen a viral video last year that showed a Texas shopper licking a carton of ice cream and putting it back on a store shelf. Now an Arizona lawmaker wants to make that illegal.

Republican Rep. T.J. Shope of Coolidge says his bill would protect consumers.

Shope said there is a craze of sorts that apparently started last year with a young woman taking a video of herself at a Texas store taking a container of ice cream off the shelf, licking it and the putting it back. What happened is it became a game of sorts — it picked up the informal name of the "Blue Bell Challenge" — with others seeking to follow suit and post their own videos.

There also are videos of people spitting into containers of ice tea and putting the containers back for others to buy.

Shope said he's heard of one such incident in Arizona.

"When incidents like that have occurred in Arizona it's been our understanding that law enforcement hasn't been able to charge because we don't have appropriate things like that in Arizona at this time," he said.

So House Bill 2299, Shope said, is modeled after a law adopted in Texas.

Shope said House Bill 2299 is focused on those who post what they do on social media, trying to get famous. He said it’s not aimed at kids who don't know any better. If passed, offenders could end up in state prison.

As crafted, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor to "knowingly introduce, add or mingle any bodily fluid, foreign object not intended for human consumption or unsanitary surface with any water, food, drink or other product that may be consumed by a human being.''

Violators could end up in the county jail for up to four months and face a fine of $750.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.