Saskatoon woman shocked to find big, brightly coloured beetle in packaged organic spinach

A Saskatoon woman says she's leery of eating packaged spinach again. As she was making dinner, Darcy Parenteau says she was shocked to find a large, brightly coloured beetle in her baby spinach.

Entomologist believes insect could be iron cross blister beetle

This beetle was found in a package of organic spinach by a Saskatoon woman. (Darcy Parenteau)

A Saskatoon woman says she's leery of eating packaged spinach again.

As she was making dinner, Darcy Parenteau says she was shocked to find a large, brightly coloured beetle in her baby spinach.

"When I parted the greens, I shrieked," Parenteau said. "I think the whole neighbourhood heard me."

Parenteau believes the bug, roughly as long as a toonie, was an iron cross blister beetle.

The large red and yellow insect can give off a toxic chemical that can raise blisters on the skin if touched. There have been reports of animals being harmed after eating large quantities of the beetles.

An entomologist in the U.S. confirms the insect was a blister beetle, common in Arizona and California. While the beetle likely wouldn't be fatal if eaten, it would cause significant discomfort.

This isn't the first time one of these beetles have been found in packaged greens. A woman in Ontario recently found a similar insect in her package of mixed greens.

Since discovering the beetle two weeks ago, Parenteau has contacted Sobeys, the grocery store she bought the spinach from, and Earthbound Farms, the company responsible for packaging the spinach.

The beetle is roughly the same size as a toonie. (Darcy Parenteau)

A representative from Sobeys said the company has talked to Parenteau and Earthbound Farms about the issue. Sobeys said the company takes issues like this very seriously, and has flagged the situation with Earthbound.

Meanwhile, Parenteau said Earthbound Farms initially offered her $30 and their apologies. When she turned the offer down, the company raised the offer to $250, which she also refused. She says she's not doing this for the money.

"I turned that down, due to the fact that I don't know how long it will be until I can eat packaged food like this again," said Parenteau. "I don't trust it."

In an emailed statement, Earthbound Farms said it has never encountered the insect on its farms before. It has stopped using greens from that farm and region until it has been further investigated.

As well, laser sorters have been reconfigured to look for the insects.

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