Don’t Drink the Props

While attending college I worked in the local mall at a fast food restaurant that specialized in fried chicken breast sandwiches. Each morning our manager had us prepare a plate consisting of the typical meal – a sandwich, fries, and a pickle. This was then placed on the end of the counter which faced the mall’s promenade; the idea being to draw shoppers in with the scrumptious looking meal. One day, many hours into the shift and well past our model meal’s “best by” date, a passerby grabbed the sandwich and walked away eating it as we watched in disbelief. We were quite sure that the elderly sandwich would at least give her a belly ache. We could only hope that she wouldn’t sue.

I hadn’t thought about that for a long time. But the memory came back to me when I read this final chapter to a months long tainted beer scare in Canada.

The accounts of apparently poisoned bottles of Stella Artois began trickling in as early as 2006 by some accounts. They were few and scattered and were beginning to cause some real concern for Labatt, Stella’s Canadian distributor. When the tainted beers were studied, high levels of ethanol were found in them. The strangest part of this whole mystery was how spread out the cases were and yet how few of them there were. Over many months only seven tainted beers were found.

But the mystery has been solved and Canadian drinkers can once again confidently rend their tee-shirts while ordering “Stella!”

These bottles of beer were meant to contain high levels of ethanol. They actually came from the brewer that way. They were also never meant to be drunk. These were display models – meant to stand behind the bar to induce the patrons to buy the brand much like a scrumptious fried chicken breast sandwich meal. But nobody told the bartenders that and some of these display models found their way to the cooler behind the bar and ultimately into drinkers’ hands.

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