Potato-tampering lab results facing delays

RCMP say recent discovery of more needles at Cavendish Farms pushing back results by a couple of months

Nancy MacPhee nmacphee@journalpioneer.com
Published on January 9, 2015
potato with needle

LINKLETTER — Lab results expected to be completed by now in the RCMP’s investigation of potato tampering on Prince Edward Island will likely be delayed with the recent discovery of more tampered with potatoes, says RCMP spokesman Sgt. Leanne Butler.

On Dec. 29, Cavendish Farms Ltd. confirmed that potatoes containing needles, which originated from an Island farm it didn’t name, were found at its facility.

“Because we have sent additional potatoes with needles to this lab it has extended the date. We are expecting it will extend it by a couple of months,” said Butler.

“They are a private company so they would service all kinds of police services. As things go into the lab they get triaged, so certain things may bump other investigations based on seriousness or necessity. Our indications are the results will probably here by February.”

On Dec. 27 and 28, sewing needles were found by metal detectors during a production run at the Irving-owned New Annan french fry processing plant, resulting in 100,000 pounds of fries and raw potatoes being destroyed.

It was in October needles were first discovered in potatoes originating from Summerside’s Linkletter Farms. The tampered potatoes had made their way to customers in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. Since then, at least 10 cases have been reported to police. No arrests have been made and tips have turned up few viable leads, said Butler.

Even a hefty reward of $100,000, offered by the P.E.I. Potato Board for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the potato tampering incidents, has turned up few leads.

“We are soliciting the public if they have any information and reminding them that there is that reward there and we are following up on every tip that we get,” said the RCMP spokesperson. “Some are very general in nature but everything will be followed up by an investigator.”

Butler couldn’t say exactly how many exhibits have been sent for analysis.

“I do know each time we got a new report, those were added to the case. They take it all together, so that’s why they are going to give us one comprehensive report instead of dribs and drabs.”

Anyone with information can call the RCMP at 902- 436-9300. If people want to remain anonymous they can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or through the website www.peicrimestoppers. com.

The reward for tips is in effect until Jan. 31.