SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Police in Prince Edward Island 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 Wednesday that 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, P.E.I.
Butler said all of the affected potatoes came from Linkletter Farms, a company based in Summerside, P.E.I., 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. Butler would not say how many needles were found.
The six potatoes that contained sewing needles were found by consumers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. There are no reports of any injuries.
Butler said the latest discovery of a tampered potato was made Tuesday by someone who purchased a bag of potatoes at a Co-op store in Fredericton on Oct. 6.
"We're waiting for all the potatoes to actually arrive in P.E.I. 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."
Mary Keith of Cavendish Farms said all of the 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.
"All of the materials from that day's production are in the process of being destroyed," she said. "We're talking what is the equivalent of 14 tractor trailer loads of product, so nothing left the site."
Linkletter Farms said it immediately notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when it discovered the problem last week and the agency said the 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 any are discovered.