On May 21, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned consumers of a possible food tampering situation where needles and nails appeared to be showing up in potatoes, primarily in our Atlantic provinces. And this week, the growing concern of food and farm tampering was on the agenda, as federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers converged on Prince Edward Island for their annual meeting.
“Well the great thing is that Canadian consumers understand that theses are despicable deplorable acts,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told media. ” The farmers that are being attacked are the victims here.”
I know the RCMP are involved. We look forward to them finding these scoundrels and throwing the full force of the law at them.
On May 22, Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Strang’s Produce Inc. both voluntarily recalled products due to the possibility of tampering.
“I know the RCMP are involved. We look forward to them finding these scoundrels and throwing the full force of the law at them,” said Minister Ritz. “No matter who’s involved, they will face a minimum of a half a million dollar fine and 18 months in jail.”
The province of Prince Edward Island has provided $500, 000 to fund on-site security assessments, training, equipment and continued compliance towards the detection of foreign materials. The industry will also receive $1.4 million in financial assistance from Growing Forward 2, to go towards the purchase and installation of detection equipment,
But the offence, subsequent recalls and movement towards further detection equipment is not just costing the government dollars.
“Farms that have already been affected by food tampering have incurred losses of more than one million dollars, and the costs associated with installing foreign material detection equipment will exceed five million dollars,” said PEI Potato Board Chairman, Alex Docherty, in a June release.
“In some cases, some of our farmers have been shut down for 6 weeks while they get the equipment in place,” PEI Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Alan McIsaac, told media today. “The integrity of our potato crop, though, is still top-notch and world-renowned, and we will continue to make it that way, and work with our farmers to help them in whatever way possible.”
This isn’t the first time the Atlantic provinces have been afflicted by the hand of “tuber terrorists.” Similar advisories were sent out in October by the CFIA, with the investigation listed as ongoing.
Ritz referred to those guilty as “food terrorists” and was not hesitant in voicing his disapproval.
“It’s really unfortunate that they somehow think this is making their point — it’s not.”
Halifax police reporting another case of potential food tampering. A woman says she found a nail in a potato she was cooking #cbcns
— CBC Nova Scotia (@CBCNS) May 29, 2015
Consumers in Atlantic Canada should carefully check potatoes for foreign objects. http://t.co/slxaaxitf4
— CFIA – Food (@CFIA_Food) May 22, 2015
@RCMPNS investigating yet another report of a nail found in a bag of russet potatoes. The pomme-de-terrorist strikes again.
— Todd Battis (@battisctv) June 3, 2015
@RCMPNS I’m actually not buying potatoes until this stops, to scary!
— Laura Stapleton (@laurastapleton4) June 3, 2015