Select Page

The Law of the Ice Cream Tub Licker

Well, let me just start by getting this on the record: “Good lord, man, I can’t support that.” (And, yes, the version I remember is the “nun-beating” one.) But while this is nasty behavior (see CBS News, Fox News, Today), which should indeed be criminal, I’m skeptical about the apparent police theory that this is second-degree food tampering under Texas law:

Before the suspect was identified as a juvenile, police said she could have faced up to 20 years in prison. They had planned on arresting her on a charge of second-degree felony tampering.

Texas Penal Code § 22.09 provides,

(a) (2) “Tamper” means to alter or add a foreign substance to a consumer product to make it probable that the consumer product will cause serious bodily injury.

(b) A person commits an offense if he knowingly or intentionally tampers with a consumer product [including food] knowing that the consumer product will be offered for sale to the public or as a gift to another.

(d) An offense under Subsection (b) is a felony of the second degree unless a person suffers serious bodily injury, in which event it is a felony of the first degree.

And licking food doesn’t seem to “make it probable that the consumer product will cause serious bodily injury”—possible, yes, probable, no. To be sure, a nonprecedential Texas case does seem to stretch the “probable … will cause serious bodily injury” a bit, but that case involved someone sprinkling powdered feces on food, which strikes me as quite a bit more dangerous. (A jury sentenced the defendant to five years in prison.) The licked ice cream strikes me as comparable in dangerousness to guacamole at a party in which people were double-dipping, or for that matter a tub of ice cream into which someone had stuck a spoon that she had eaten from.

It’s not that licking an ice cream tub is great for public health, and it’s certainly illegal. But this particular Texas statute doesn’t seem to cover it.

This post has been republished with permission from a publicly-available RSS feed found on Reason. The views expressed by the original author(s) do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Libertarian Hub, its owners or administrators. Any images included in the original article belong to and are the sole responsibility of the original author/website. The Libertarian Hub makes no claims of ownership of any imported photos/images and shall not be held liable for any unintended copyright infringement. Submit a DCMA takedown request.

Read the original article.

About The Author

Eugene Volokh

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Bringing together a variety of news and information from some of today’s most important libertarian thought leaders. All feeds are checked and refreshed every hour and pages auto-refresh every 15 minutes. External images are deleted after 30 days.

Time since last refresh: 0 second

Publish Your Own Article

Follow The Libertarian Hub


Support Our Work

Support the Libertarian Hub by tipping with Bitcoin!

Weekly Newsletter

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!

Weekly Newsletter SignupTop 5 Stories of the Week

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!