Shoppers who have recently bought pistachio- or butterscotch-flavored Jell-O pudding mix from three local Stop & Shops and a Huntington Waldbaum's should be vigilant that a package's contents have not been altered, Suffolk police said Monday.
Lt. Michael Murphy said that investigators have recovered most, if not all, of the dozens of pudding boxes that Christine Clement of East Northport told police she bought last week from supermarkets in Brookhaven, Smithtown, Huntington and Woodbury.
Clement removed the pudding mix and replaced it with resealable plastic bags filled with sand and salt, sealed the boxes with a hot-glue gun and returned them to the stores for refunds, police said.
A customer discovered a tampered box of pudding mix, Murphy said, but no injuries have been reported.
But given Clement's unreliable memory of how many boxes she bought on five shopping trips, Murphy said consumers should remain alert for any signs of tampering.
Clement, 64, and her husband Alexander, 68, of Dickinson Avenue in East Northport, were each charged with five counts of petty larceny and five counts of second-degree tampering with a consumer product. They were awaiting arraignment.
Nassau County police charged the couple with first-degree falsifying business records, petty larceny and misdemeanor tampering with a consumer product involving the return of tampered pudding mix to a Woodbury store. The couple were issued desk appearance tickets.
No one answered the door at the Clements' home Monday.
A Stop & Shop spokeswoman said she could not disclose store policies on reshelving returned goods because that "would compromise their effectiveness."
"Food safety and the safety of our customers are highest priority to us," said Faith Weiner, the chain's director of public affairs.
Murphy said Clement had suffered from mental health issues and appeared to be remorseful.
"I'm very confident there was no further ulterior motive than to return the pudding boxes and get her money back," he said. "She's a little old lady who made a big mistake."