Possible tampering prompts warning about bottled water in Italy, Sicily
December 11, 2003
Military officials in Italy are warning people to watch out for the possible tampering of bottled water in stores and vending machines in Italy and Sicily.
Plastic bottles of water, as well as juice and milk containers, may have been injected with bleach or other substances.
In Aviano, base officials said there have been 10 cases reported recently in cities in northern Italy, including the nearby large cities of Udine and Pordenone — where many Americans live and shop. One case has been reported in Verona, where there is a small U.S. military presence.
No cases, however, have been reported on any U.S. military installation.
Base officials in Sigonella, Naples, Vicenza and Aviano issued e-mails alerting people to the tampering. The e-mails in Sigonella and Naples recommended purchasing water from the base commissary or exchange.
“So far, it seems to be happening not at the warehouse but at the store level,” said Sigonella commissary officer Phil Ruiz. “We have no reason to think this water has been tampered with.”
Sigonella sells four types of bottled water, two from Italy and one each from France and Germany.
Ruiz said, however, the commissary must put out a precautionary sign recommending that people check the bottled water for signs of tampering. In Aviano, commissary officials said they have inspected the water they sell, but were telling customers that they should check, too.
All the e-mails recommended checking a bottle’s seal to ensure it’s intact, examine the water for discoloration and then shake and squeeze it to check for leaks or white foam in the water.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Tonja Adams of the Naples-based Military Sealift Command Europe said she heard about the tampering Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s sick, but I’m not surprised,” she said as she purchased a small bottle of Vera water. “I’m very cautious selecting bottles now. I look to make sure there are no leaks.”
Anyone who suspects he or she has found water that has been tampered with has been asked to contact local military or civilian law enforcement officials.
Staff writer Kent Harris in Aviano, Italy, contributed to this report.