Hair, maybe. Insects, perhaps. But certainly not a human tooth.
Still, that's what West Jordan resident Tina Keeney said she found in the can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup she served her 13-month-old son last summer.
After dishing up her own serving of the soup, Keeney scooped some noodles out of her bowl and placed them on the tray of her son's high chair. She had finished her lunch and was at the sink rinsing out her bowl when she heard a tapping noise.
Knowing the child had nothing that could make such a noise, Keeney walked to her son to find a hard, white object in his hand. Initially, she thought he had a piece of plastic, but upon closer inspection she discovered it was a tooth.
"It's gross enough as it is to find something in your food anyway, but to have it be a human tooth that was in someone else's mouth is just sickening," Keeney said.
Keeney immediately retrieved the can and called Campbell's Soup Co. and reached an operator who, she said, was polite but also seemed skeptical of her story. The operator questioned whether the object could actually be a chicken bone or other natural substance, which Keeney was sure it was not.
"I said, 'I'm not a dentist, but it looks like a molar to me,' " she said.
The operator then said she would send Keeney a check to cover the cost of the soup, plus a little extra, and a package in which Keeney could return the object.
Keeney, however, was worried that would be the end of the story, and called Salt Lake attorney Daniel Irvin.
Since that July afternoon, Irvin has had the object tested by a pathologist, who confirmed it is indeed a human molar, likely from a 13-year-old mouth. The expert noted the tooth, actually half a tooth, appeared to have been cut in some kind of manufacturing process, Irvin said.
Additional tests ruled out that the tooth belonged to anyone in the Keeney family, including her older daughters.
Irvin said he has spoken numerous times to officials at New Jersey-based Campbell Soup Co. about settling the matter. However, they were unable to reach a resolution and Irvin this week filed a civil lawsuit against the company in Salt Lake's 3rd District Court.
Representatives from company were unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.
The suit asks for unspecified general damages on behalf of Keeney and her son.
"Here's a woman who can't eat soup, her family can't eat soup. And to be honest with you, I haven't eaten soup since this happened," Irvin said.
Keeney makes clear she didn't file the lawsuit to make money from the situation. She's more worried about her son getting sick from some unknown disease carried in the tooth. However, the child's pediatrician, who checked him out shortly after the incident, reassured her that chances of him contracting a disease, such as hepatitis, are slim.
She also expected to see some sort of recall on the soup to, at the very least, discover the whereabouts of the other half of the tooth. "I guess I'm naive, but I thought they'd want to investigate it and see where it came from."
Keeney said she has explored any other ways in which the tooth could have made its way into her house but has found no other explanation.
"There's no other possible way it could have gotten into the house other than the soup," she said.
Keeney said she's gone through all the scenarios in her mind, wondering if perhaps an upset plant worker placed the tooth there to get the company in trouble. Still, with all the questions, she said one thing is sure: she'll never eat canned soup again.