A Texas family claims that a 20-ounce bottle of Dr. Pepper they bought during a car trip came with an unwelcome prize inside: a "pretty good size rodent".
According to KPRC2, a Houston-based NBC News affiliate, John Graves purchased the beverage for his 3-year-old grandson, Kayden, in Galveston, Texas. It was only after finishing half of the soda that the young boy noticed the cold stare of a dead rat through the walls of the plastic bottle.
Graves told KPRC2 that the rodent was about "3 inches long, with a big long tail."
Though Kayden appears to be unscathed following his gross encounter of the furry kind, the family has been in touch with Dr. Pepper about conducting tests on the liquid to determine whether or not he's in any danger after ingesting it.
"I want to get the rat tested to see where it came from, how it got there, if there is any medical concerns we should be concerned about," Graves told KPRC2.
But conducting those lab tests is exactly where the ordeal gets hairy.
Graves and his family are refusing to hand over the specimen to Dr. Pepper on the grounds that they'd rather run independent tests, saying that there's "no telling what could happen to that sample" if they forfeit it to the soda giant.
For its part, Dr. Pepper reps says they're happy to run tests on the soda bottle, but claim that the closest independent lab where said tests could possibly be conducted is in Kansas.
In a statement to KPRC2 News, Dr. Pepper deemed it highly unlikely that a rodent had infiltrated their airtight bottling assembly line:
What we know from our experience is that given the controls and safeguards we have in our production facilities it is virtually impossible for any foreign object to enter any container during the bottling process. All of our containers enter our facility on pallets in our warehouse and remain covered until the moment they are placed on our high-speed filling lines. Once on the filling lines, they are inverted and rinsed out before they are filled and capped.
Jay Neal, a food and safety expert at the University of Houston, agreed that it was highly unlikely that the rat had managed to slip into the soda during bottling, though he told the network that it wasn't impossible.
"A mouse can fit through a hole about the size of a nickel," he said. "They don't have bones, they have cartilage, and they can squeeze through it."