Sewing needles found in PEI potatoes

RCMP expands probe to Cavendish fry plant.

SUMMERSIDE, PEI — Police in PEI say the metal objects found in six potatoes in Atlantic Canada in the last week were sewing needles and they have expanded their investigation to include a french fry production facility in the province.

RCMP Sgt. Leanne Butler said in addition to the tampered potatoes, sewing needles were detected in french fries on a production run at the Cavendish Farms plant in New Annan, PEI.

Butler said the tampered potatoes originated from Linkletter Farms, a company based in Summerside, PEI that sells potatoes to the public and supplies Cavendish Farms.

“It appears the metal sewing needles were intentionally placed in the potatoes prior to the potatoes being sent to the production facility,” Butler said.

The needles found at the french fry facility were detected by safety protocols and investigators believe that all of the affected fries were caught before they left the plant, the RCMP said.

Consumers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador found the six potatoes that contained sewing needles. There are no reports of any injuries.

Butler says someone who purchased a bag of potatoes at a Co-op store in Fredericton on Oct. 6 made the latest discovery of a tampered potato.

“We’re waiting for all the potatoes to actually arrive in PEI to go under forensic identification,” she said, adding that they have received photos of all of the potatoes containing needles. “Some are still being sent here from where they were discovered.”

Cavendish Farms said all fries associated with the production run where the sewing needles were discovered are being destroyed and all raw potatoes that may have been involved are under RCMP quarantine.

Linkletter Farms said it immediately notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when it discovered the problem last week and the agency said that company voluntarily withdrew its Link and Market Town brands.

The RCMP have asked consumers in Atlantic Canada to check for metal objects in potatoes supplied by the company and call them if more are discovered.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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