We place a lot of faith in food packaging companies. Taking a sip from a soda or beer, we’ve placed our lives into the hands of the companies responsible for bottling and sealing cans for sale.
Most of the time, this works perfectly fine. Nobody needs to worry about what may be swimming around in their beer. But every one on a blue moon, something horrible happens. Something you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.
One unfortunate man is now suing international beer company Heineken over what he found inside his can of suds.
Look closely. What do you see? It’s exactly what you think it is. It is the preserved corpse of a literal lizard. Like, a small lizard just pressed inside the bottom rim of the can. Holy crap.
George Toubbeh was just sipping from a 24-ounce can in August 2015 when he noticed something was seriously off. According his lawsuit, he felt a “foul taste” in the drink, and rapidly felt extreme pain in his stomach and the urge to throw up.
His daughter took a look inside the can, and found the lizards, or more accurately, young leopard geckos, which don’t even live in the United States, but are sometimes kept as pets.
Toubbeh was rushed to the emergency room, and ever since the incident, he’s suffered severe anxiety, characterized as PTSD, around consuming packaged food and beverages, and I can’t really blame him! How horrible would it be to have nightmares of the same thing happening, and finding salamanders or bugs inside cans of soda?
If your faith in canned drinks has been betrayed once, it can never be made entirely normal again. That’s why Toubbeh is suing Heineken, a lawsuit which may have serious legs. Though this was a one-off freak accident, it has apparently changed his life forever.
Last August, soon after the incident, the can was evaluated by a zoologist who concluded that the geckos were present in the beer at the time of packaging, that that nobody had stuffed them in to try to make a quick buck or stir up controversy.
Toubbeh’s lawsuit states: “When discovered, the geckos had not been decomposed at all and were likely alive when the beer was poured and sealed into the cans in the bottling and/or canning facility.”
How exactly would geckos get into the brew? Who knows. We all read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in high school, and were given copious images of rats swirled into the vats of meat and food soon to be packaged and sold.
We shouldn’t worry too much, however, and this shouldn’t stop you from drinking Heineken or any canned beverage. This incident seemed like a billion-to-one chance that just happened to come true, and scarred one man forever. Toubbeh, who lives in Fountain Valley, California, is seeking payment for medical costs, lost wages and overall anxiety and stress caused by the incident.
We’ll be curious to see how the lawsuit pans out, or if the Toubbeh family will ever drink Heineken again. That’s the cost of an industrialized, mass-manufactured capitalist society – every now and then, an externality crops up that shocks everybody. You just can’t count on everything going to plan all the time, and sometimes, our expectations find themselves gazing down an aluminum corridor into the corpses of two dead geckos.