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Louisiana Men Report Finding Syringes in Pepsi Cans

June 15, 1993

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration is investigating claims by two men who said they each found a needle and syringe in a can of Pepsi.

The reports followed the discovery of two hypodermic needles in Diet Pepsi cans in Washington state. But Anne Ward, a spokesman at Pepsi Cola’s New York headquarters, said Monday: ″We can’t speculate on whether they’re related. It really could be anything.″ She said the FDA was investigating.

Lenny Schouest, a New Orleans shipyard worker, said he bought a can of regular Pepsi Sunday and a bent needle cut his lip when he took a swallow. He said he and the store owner emptied the drink into a cup and the needle and syringe fell out.

Schouest said the drink contained a white powder that floated, but they threw it out. He kept the can and syringe and took it to a nearby hospital, he said.

Kristine David, a spokeswoman for Jo Ellen Smith Medical Center, confirmed that a patient was treated and released from the emergency room Sunday evening, but declined to give further details.

Schouest said he had not heard about the needles found in Washington until reporters told him.

″I’m not a person going to be looking for trouble,″ he said. ″I’m scared. I don’t want to catch a disease.″

Roger Lowell, an FDA district director in Washington state, said the acidity of the soft drink would kill almost any bacteria or virus.

A spokesman for the New Orleans Pepsi distributor, Bryan Quarls, said another man, Antoine Lewis, reported finding a needle in a Pepsi can Monday morning.

″We are taking the claims very seriously,″ Quarls said. ″But we’re looking at it as an isolated incident.″

A woman in Southern California also claimed Monday that she was stuck in the gums by a syringe found inside a sealed Diet Coke can, but Los Angeles police said that incident appeared to be a hoax.

After the two incidents in Washington state, the FDA advised people in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam to inspect Diet Pepsi cans closely and pour the soda into another container before drinking.

The syringes found in the two cans in Washington looked almost identical, Lowell said. The first syringe was discovered by an elderly couple Wednesday in Tacoma, Wash. The second was found Friday by a woman in Federal Way, a city between Seattle and Tacoma.

The two soda cans were sent to an FDA laboratory in Cincinnati for more tests.

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