A second potato from Prince Edward Island has been found with a metal object inserted inside, widening an RCMP investigation into food tampering in P.E.I.
Both of the compromised potatoes were found in Newfoundland and Labrador, but the potatoes were grown and packed at Linkletter Farms in Summerside, P.E.I.
A consumer discovered the first on Monday in Labrador City. He was peeling the potato when he discovered a sewing machine needle inside.
The second potato was found Wednesday in Noggin Cove. It too had a metal object inserted into it.
The two communities are more than 1,800 kilometres apart.
RCMP communications officer Sgt. Leanne Butler says a team made up of members from the major crime unit, forensic identification unit and the East Prince RCMP detachment are now dedicated to this investigation.
“Both potatoes are being shipped here for forensics,” Butler said.
Police are treating this as a criminal act of mischief, as it is believed an individual purposely inserted the metal pieces into the potatoes.
Gary Linkletter, general manager of Linkletter Farms, asked the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Tuesday to issue a voluntary recall of all potatoes shipped across Atlantic Canada from his farm.
Now that a second potato has been found with a metal object inside, Linkletter says he is glad he asked for the recall.
“It just means the recall was definitely necessary and we are definitely into a situation where there is some malicious intent going on here,” Linkletter said, adding the objects found in the potatoes could not have originated in his packing plant or farm.
Linkletter was audibly dejected when speaking with The Guardian for a second consecutive day about problems found in his potatoes.
The Summerside farm operation is a multi-generation family farm and potato packing operation that has been growing and selling potatoes for almost 50 years.
But despite the recall and bad PR associated with incidents like this one, Linkletter was more concerned with reassuring the public about his company’s commitment to food safety and security than in conveying his own disappointment.
He also stressed these incidents involve only his own farm and not any other aspect of Prince Edward Island’s iconic potato industry.
In addition to being a potato farmer, Linkletter is the chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board.
“There’s no indication at all it’s an industry-wide thing, so people should feel comfortable eating P.E.I. potatoes from other packing sheds, but they should certainly refrain from anything from Linkletter or Market Town until we get things sorted out here.”
In addition to the recall, the company has halted all further shipments until the matter is resolved.
Linkletter plans to invest in new metal detecting equipment going forward to ensure, when his products do finally go back out to market, the public can have full confidence in his potatoes.
If anyone else finds a metal object in a potato, RCMP are asking that they keep the potato and the bag it came in and call the East Prince detachment of the RCMP at 902-436-9300 to ensure the appropriate authorities can obtain it.