A US teenager who was filmed removing the lid from an ice-cream and licking it before placing it back in the freezer has been found by police.
Authorities in Lufkin, Texas, were able to identify the teen dubbed the "Blue Bell licker" after video of the 17-year-old, who has not been publicly identified, was posted to Twitter.
The clip prompted an outpouring of disgust on social media before the store, a Lufkin Walmart, was identified. According to police, staff retrieved the "tainted container of ice cream". Out of an "abundance of caution", American ice cream company Blue Bell also removed all half-gallons of "Tin Roof" product from the shelves.
Um. As a Brenham-ite, I’m upset at the disrespect for Blue Bell. As a human... wtf is wrong with her? pic.twitter.com/JFI0FR5VmJ— Jessica Fletcher (@heckyessica) June 29, 2019
In a Facebook post on Friday, Lufkin Police Department said the teen and her boyfriend had been "forthcoming" and had admitted to the act. They noted, however, that identifying the pair had been made more difficult due to a "catfish" with a similar screen name, who took credit for the Walmart incident.
"It was actually the catfish and NOT our suspect who bragged on Instagram about the incident saying: "Yeah, I really did that. You can call it Flu Bell ice cream now 'cause I was a lil sick last week. Repost yourself doing this. Let's see if we can start an epidemic (literally)," police explained.
@ILoveBlueBell please note that your legal counsel should file charges against this person for affecting your company's profits & opened you to liable issues As she may have started a viral outbreak of the flu. Which were her intentions. LOCATION SAN ANTONIO TEXAS.— AskGeeves (@OnlyGeeves) June 30, 2019
Adding that they do not intend to pursue charges against the teen as an "adult", police advised, "What happens from here is at the discretion of the juvenile justice system. We cannot speak for them as to what charge she will face in the juvenile justice system."
Whether her boyfriend will face charges has also yet to be determined.
Before she was identified as a minor, Police had been seeking a charge of second-degree felony tampering with a consumer product, which carries up to 20 years in prison.
In a statement, Blue Bell thanked authorities for their assistance and customers who had alerted them to the incident.
"Food safety is our top priority, and we work hard to provide a safe product and maintain the highest level of confidence from our consumers. We are always looking for ways to improve, including looking at methods within our manufacturing process to add additional protection to the carton, " they said.
A change.org petition has also been launched, asking Blue Bell to add a tamper seal to "protect people from copy cat viral seeking ice cream licking people."
The incident has already spawned several copycat videos, including one from YouTuber, Larz who later joked about being interviewed by police.
In 2015, Ariana Grande issued an apology to fans after she was filmed licking a doughnut in a Lake Elsinore store in California and walking out. Police and Riverside County public health officials investigated but no charges were laid.
"Seeing a video of yourself behaving poorly, that you have no idea was taken, is such a rude awakening, that you don't know what to do -- I was so disgusted with myself," she said. "Not here to make any excuses or justify my behaviour, because I can't. ... I'm just here to apologise."
Last year Australia's parliament passed legislation to increase the maximum prison term to 15 years from 10 years for anyone convicted of food tampering after needles were found in strawberries around the country.