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Nails found in store-bought potatoes in Nova Scotia, RCMP investigating

WATCH: A Nova Scotian man got a surprise when he and his wife were preparing dinner. They found an unexpected object in their potato and RCMP are now investigating. Julia Wong reports.

HALIFAX – RCMP in Nova Scotia are investigating two incidents of possible food tampering after nails were found in store-bought potatoes.

Antigonish RCMP received a report on May 19 that a nail was found inside a potato from a bag of Farmer’s Market potatoes purchased at the local Atlantic Superstore.

On May 20, Barringon RCMP were alerted to a similar incident by a store manager from the local No Frills grocery store, who told them a nail had been found in a Farmer’s Market potato.

Both potatoes, and their respective bags, were turned over to police and no injuries were reported. No other nails were found in any other potatoes.

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Jim Barry of Loch Katrine, N.S. found one of the nails. He bought the bag of potatoes from the Superstore in Antigonish earlier this month.

Barry said he and his wife had gone through half the bag when they got a shock Monday while preparing food.

“[My wife] was peeling a potato and she couldn’t get the skin off because she kept hitting something,” he said.

“She cut into the potato and then she couldn’t cut through it. Then she cut through it with a larger knife and [broke] the potato and sure enough, there was a one-inch nail poking out of the potato.”

Barry described the nail as a finishing nail that was embedded all the way through the potato.

“It’s just amazing what some people will do,” he said. “Whether it was intentional or some kind of a mechanical failure, I don’t know. But it seemed to me like the nail was pushed into the potato.”

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Barry alerted the RCMP, who picked up the potato in question and the bag of potatoes the next day.

He did not find nails in any other potatoes and said he found no evidence of tampering on the bag itself.

“I come from a background of food service so you’re always careful with handling your food, making sure it’s been handled correctly and checking for things that shouldn’t be there,” Barry said.

“It was a surprise to find it there for sure.”

Barry said he is most worried that someone will pre-bake a potato in the microwave and if there is a nail in the potato, it could become a dangerous situation.

Investigation in the early stages

Police say the investigation is ongoing, and they are asking people who find metal objects in potatoes to not throw them out and report it immediately.

“Our concern if public safety and once we became aware of two incidents we felt it was important to notify the public,” said Sgt. Al LeBlanc with the Nova Scotia RCMP.

“We’re trying to determine how these nails ended [up] in the potato.”

LeBlanc declined to comment on whether the nails found in the two potatoes were similar.

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Last year, police offered a $100,000 reward for information about sewing needles found in potatoes from Prince Edward Island-based farms.

LeBlanc said it is too early in the investigation to say whether the cases in Nova Scotia and PEI are linked.

“There’s no evidence, no tangible evidence that suggests that these [incidents] are connected,” he said.

He said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CFIA, has been alerted to the incidents. The CFIA told Global News it is following up with the food companies and producers involved.

Loblaws, the parent company of Superstore and No Frills, sent the following statement to Global News: “We are working closely with the RCMP and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to support their investigation and are closely monitoring the products in our locations. Customers with concerns about potato products they have purchased can return the product to the customer service desk for a full refund.”