A family in Oshawa, Ont., is calling on grocery giant Loblaw to recall a frozen berry product after finding what appeared to be shattered pieces of rock inside.
“It was pretty well completely in disguise with the ice that was in the bag. It was the same diameter, the same colour,” said Jordan Vandewater, standing outside his young family’s north-end home.
He was describing an incident on Sept. 17 when his daughter, Maria, 6, found what appeared to be a rock in the smoothie she was sipping along with her younger sister, Julia.
Their mother, Emily, who works as a nurse, then took a look at was remaining of their drinks to find four more small sharp pieces of stone.
“I was up multiple times through the night waking them up, asking them if they have abdominal pain,” she said.
Both parents told Global News they feared for the worst.
“Are they going to be okay? Did they eat a piece? Did they swallow a fragment and we don’t know? Are we going to be in for a hospital trip?” said the father, listing his concerns at the time.
The rocks also damaged the blade of their new blender, the mother, Emily, added.
The item at issue was a bag of President’s Choice frozen red raspberries, purchased from a No Frills near their home, he said.
When the Vandewaters complained to parent company Loblaw, they said they were offered 250,000 PC Optimum points, which was later boosted to 300,000, or a value of $300.
The agreement, which was provided to Global News, included terms such as “to keep the terms of this settlement confidential” and to not discuss it with “any party except their legal and financial advisors.”
Vandewater emphasized he nor his wife have signed any such form.
“These big conglomerate companies shouldn’t be allowed to more or less entrap the consumer with offering them points in exchange for a signature to keep quiet about this kind of thing,” he said.
In a statement, Loblaw Companies Limited said when fruit like berries is harvested from fields, objects like rocks can get into products on rare occasions.
“Food safety in the products we sell to Canadians is something we take very seriously and we have a number of checks in place to reduce the risk of this type of incident from occurring,” the email read.
It said it confirmed with its vendor that the incident was isolated and that there have been no additional complaints.
Referring the confidentiality agreement, the statement continued, “Companies generally have release forms, that often include language around confidentiality, as a standard component of any customer complaint resolution.”
The company also said it had offered to compensate the family financially for the damaged blender and “the inconvenience of the experience,” but it was unclear if this was encompassed in the existing offer of points.
The Vandewaters were put in touch with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which confirmed it is investigating their case, after they reached out to their local member of parliament, Colin Carrie.
“We applaud somebody bringing it forward to our office trying to do the right thing so that other families so that other families don’t have to go through this,” he said over Zoom from Ottawa.
Vandewater said his concern isn’t about receiving points but rather for the safety of others.
He is calling on Loblaw to remove the product from its shelves.
“Here’s hoping they take this as seriously as we have so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”