Shortly after 6 a.m. an employee was alerted by a customer that a hypodermic syringe had been found stabbed into a Jimmy Dean sausage tube. While removing the meat, the employee noted another tube with hole pokes, and immediately alerted the on-duty manager who dialed 911.
"Somebody had pushed a syringe into the tube at an angle, and it poked out the other side," Poulsbo Police Officer Nick Hoke said. "The actual metal needle tip was not attached to the syringe though."
Police removed the syringe and saw no evidence that it had been used, saying the inside of the syringe looked dry and uncontaminated, "except for the business end that had a bit of sausage meet jammed into it."
Officer Hoke opened the tubes to search for the metal needle tip, but was unable to locate it in the meat.
Store employees were concerned that the needle's tip could have been broken off in other tubes, so the entire meat section "was sealed off with plastic sheeting to prevent any customers from buying anything in that section," police say.
"A subsequent inspection revealed several other meat items had holes punched in the packages," Officer Hoke said. All items were removed and the area was disinfected by employees.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reviewed all video and transactions involving products in the contaminated area and say there is no cause for concern. Police also reviewed surveillance video, and have confirmed no one entered the store during the time of contamination.
"Nobody else was seen on video at that exact area until a customer saw the syringe there and reported it," Officer Hoke said.
Footage showed the man walked into the store around 12:48 a.m. Friday, stabbed the meat tubes and fell asleep at the Subway located at the front of the store. The man exited the store and was seen driving off with a woman in a black Ford Focus.
Police later found several syringes in the parking lot where the Focus had been parked.
"In the interest of public safety," Officer Hoke said, "the managers at Walmart decided to remove every food item from that area from inventory and destroy them all."
The estimated food loss totaled around $19,000, as every package in the section had to be removed.
Police arrested the suspect on food tampering charges Saturday, and records show the suspect admitted to police he has "a serious daily heroin habit."