Florida Anti-Tampering Act
What happens if you are accused of tampering with food or drugs in Florida? Many of these crimes involve spitting in someone’s food or otherwise introducing some foreign substance into a consumer product.
The statute covers tampering with food as well as tampering with certain types of drugs, devices, or cosmetics.
These crimes are often investigated by law enforcement officers in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or local law enforcement agencies. The crime might be prosecuted under Section 501.001, F.S., also known as the Florida Anti-Tampering Act, although such prosecutions are relatively rare.
Part of the reason the statute is not used very often is because the statutory language is poorly written. The state statute does not track the federal food anti-tampering law. The penalties under the Florida Statute are generally harsher than the penalties included in the federal statute.
Additionally, the terms used in Florida’s Anti-Tampering Statute are extremely vague, which might lead to constitutional challenges by criminal defense attorneys.
Attorney for Crimes of Tampering with Food in Florida
If you were accused of tampering with food or consumer products in the State of Florida, then be aware that these charges are extremely serious. Local law enforcement officers will investigate any such allegation and might take swift action.
These crimes can be charged as a third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree felony depending on how the tampering occurred and the harm caused.
Many of these crimes are committed by juveniles because of the often impulsive nature of the offense. Whether the allegation is filed in the adult or juvenile courts in Florida, our attorneys can help.
Contact us to discuss the case during an office consultation. We can help you understand the charges pending against you, ways to avoid the typical punishment imposed for such offenses, and the best defenses to fight the charges for an outright dismissal.
Which Agencies Investigate Tampering with Food?
Under Section 501.001(3)(a), F.S, crimes related to tampering with food or other consumer products are investigated and prosecuted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, under chapter 500, or other local law enforcement agencies. These investigations into tampering with food or other consumer products help safeguard public welfare by identifying and removing suspect foods from consumer channels.
If food tampering is identified, alleged, or suspected, then the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will coordinate conducting these investigations with other local law enforcement agencies.
The Anti-Tampering Act in Florida also permits the Florida Department of Health, under chapter 499, to initiate actions necessary to safeguard the public welfare by identifying and removing suspect drugs, devices, or cosmetics from consumer channels if the drug, device, or cosmetic tampering is identified, alleged, or suspected.
Crimes for Tampering with Food or Other Consumer Products
Under Section 501.001(2)(a), F.S., of the Florida Anti-Tampering Act, it is a first-degree felony to:
- tampers with, or conspires or attempts to tamper with
- any consumer product or the labeling of, or container for, any such product
- with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury
Accusations of tampering with any consumer product are punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Tampering with the Labeling of or Container for a Consumer Product
Under Section 501.001(2)(b), F.S., of the Florida Anti-Tampering Act, it is a second-degree felony to:
- with intent to cause serious injury to the business of any person either:
- tampers with any consumer product; or
- renders materially false or misleading the labeling of, or container for, a consumer product.
The term “labeling” means all labels and other written, printed, or graphic matter upon any article, agent, product, or substance, or any of its containers or wrappers, or accompanying such article, agent, product, or substance.
Accusations for tampering with the labeling of or container for any consumer product are punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Communicating False Information about Tampering with a Consumer Product
Under Section 501.001(2)(c), F.S., of the Florida Anti-Tampering Act, it is a second-degree felony to:
- knowingly communicate false information that a consumer product has been tampered with
- if such tampering, had it occurred, would create a risk of death or bodily injury to another person
Accusations for falsing reporting that a consumer product was tampered with under Section 501.001(2)(c), F.S. are punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
The term “communicates false information” means to communicate information that is false, and that the communicator knows is false, under circumstances in which the information may reasonably be expected to be believed.
Threatening to Tamper with a Consumer Product
Under Section 501.001(2)(d), F.S., also known as the Florida Anti-Tampering Act, it is a third-degree felony to:
- threaten to commit or cause to be committed an act which would violate Section (2)(a)
- under circumstances in which the threat may reasonably be expected to be believed
Accusations of threatening to tamper with a consumer product under Section 501.001(2)(d), F.S, are punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Definitions for Florida’s Anti-Tampering Act
Under Florida’s Anti-Tampering Act, the terms used in the statute are listed in subsection one of Section 501.001 including:
- under subsection (1), the term “consumer product” includes:
- any food;
- any drug;
- any qualified device; or
- any cosmetic.
Under Section 501.001(1)(c), the term “bodily injury” is defined to mean:
- A cut, abrasion, bruise, burn, or disfigurement;
- Physical pain;
- Impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or
- Any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary.
Safe Food Warnings from the FDA – Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find a Food Safety News Flash. The article explains why an extra ounce of caution is warranted for food tampering even though the deliberate tampering with food to cause a major disease outbreak is relatively rare in the United States. The food industry and the FDA are increasing safety measures to ensure that products are as safe as possible. Find advice to consumers about how to detect product tampering at the grocery store and at home. Learn more about four steps to reporting a suspect produce – contacting the store manager, the local police department, the USDA’s Meat, and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555 and the FDA’s 24-hour emergency number at (301) 443-1240 or Information Line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.
This article was last updated on Friday, July 19, 2019.