Mother Indicted in Case of Baby Food Tampering

By Blumenthal, David | FDA Consumer, June 1990 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Mother Indicted in Case of Baby Food Tampering

Blumenthal, David, FDA Consumer

A Gulfport, Miss., woman faces trial and a maximum of 20 years in prison for allegedly mixing broken glass in Gerber oatmeal and feeding the concoction in a nursing bottle to her 8-month-old daughter.

A grand jury in the first judicial district for Harrison County, Miss., on Dec. 7, 1989, indicted Sylvia Hortense Payton, saying she "did wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously, and intentionally, not in self-defense and not in order to prevent bodily harm to a third person, abuse and mutilate" her infant daughter, Veouis Nicole Payton.

The Gulfport police began investigating the incident on Oct. 1. Suspecting product tampering, they notified FDA the next day. FDA New Orleans district investigator James Blakely, an 18-year veteran of product tampering investigations, immediately visited the Gulfport police station to get background information.

Blakely learned that Payton allegedly told police that glass rested on the top of the cereal in a just-opened box of the baby food. But Blakely noted that if tampering or unintentional contamination had occurred at the manufacturer level, the glass probably would have settled to the bottom of the box. Also, according to Blakely, the amount of glass found in the baby food was more than would be expected if the contamination were accidental. The nursing bottle from which the child reportedly drank the diluted baby food contained a half to a full tablespoon of large, uniformly shaped glass pieces.

At the station, Blakely examined the cereal box and found no apparent tampering with the container. Furthermore, the nature of the glass fragments suggested tampering by the consumer, according to Blakely. He noted parallel scratches on several pieces, such as might occur if a household tool had been used to break up a large piece of glass.

Blakely described his findings to the police detectives and told them he suspected tampering by Payton. Together they visited Payton's apartment that same afternoon. Payton's aunt reportedly told the detectives that her niece had fed the baby the cereal at least three times on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, and that after each meal the child cried and passed bloody stools.

The detectives then interviewed Payton, whose story-according to Blakely-contradicted her aunt's. For instance, Payton reportedly told the officers that when she fed her daughter the cereal on Saturday and Sunday, the baby showed no ill effects.

Captain Wayne Payne, in charge of the Gulfport police investigation, sent detectives back that afternoon to inspect Payton's apartment. The detectives found a broken window in the child's bedroom, pieces of broken glass from the window on a sheet of notebook paper on the child's dresser, and a metal meat tenderizer on the dresser. The FDA Cincinnati district laboratory later confirmed that the glass in the cereal and nursing bottle was the same as the glass from the windowpane and dresser.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Mother Indicted in Case of Baby Food Tampering


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?