Montreal

Quebec couple startled to find huge live grasshopper in arugula container

The couple bought the produce at the Provigo supermarket in Saint-Hyacinthe on Feb. 7.

The company says measures are already in place to screen produce for foreign objects

Julie Champigny found this little guy wriggling around on her plate last Sunday night. (Submitted by Julie Champigny)

Julie Champigny normally likes fresh arugula on her pizza, but now she's not so sure.

On Sunday night, Champigny sat down to dinner with her husband and found a live grasshopper measuring about 10 centimetres nestled in with the arugula.

"Looking at the container, I saw something moving," she said. "We could not believe it."

The green grasshopper was found in a package of Attitude brand VegPro International arugula she bought at the Provigo supermarket in Saint-Hyacinthe on Feb. 7.

The 45-year-old said that the couple had consumed about two thirds of the box before they even noticed.

Watch a short video taken by Champigny showing the scale of the insect.

The bright green grasshopper blends in with the colour of the arugula, making it hard to see.

"At first, I thought it was a praying mantis," said Champigny.

After the discovery, Champigny transferred the insect to another container and kept it alive for three more days by feeding it arugula. On Wednesday, the couple found it was dead.

Detection measures already in place

Luc Prévost, vice-president at VegPro International, confirmed the greens came from Florida but they were washed and packaged in Sherrington, about 50 kilometres south of Montreal.

Prévost said the company has a system in place to sort out anything that's not plant matter, but that the grasshopper slipped by the machine that scans the produce.

The laser used by the company looks for any material that doesn't contain chlorophyll, but grasshoppers, who are herbivores, do store chlorophyll in their systems.

This along with their low density makes them very hard to detect, Prévost said.

"Our washing and scanning process should remove any foreign object," he said, "but it's never 100 per cent."

He added that the company tries not to use pesticides on its produce, which explains the presence of insects.

The company has since apologized to Champigny for the unpleasant surprise.

No risk to health

Étienne Normandin, and entomologist at l'Université de Montréal, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that the grasshopper likely entered the production facility as a "youngling in the past and found a heaven of fresh leaves."

He said the insect poses no risk to the health of Champigny or anyone else who consumed it.

"Obviously on the pizza, the katydid gives some protein," he joked.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak, Radio-Canada

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