Corner Brook woman discovers cockroach in candy cane tea
Another woman finds bugs in Aunt Jemima pancake mix
Sandy Wiseman Yates cracked open her DavidsTea advent calendar to find Day 1 came with notes of peppermint, white chocolate chips and a sprinkling of candied dust over a dead cockroach.
"There was wings in there, too," she said with a disbelieving chuckle. "I instantly saw it. It is quite large, it's probably about the size of a dime."
Aghast at the dead roach in her loose tea, she suppressed her gagging and phoned the company to complain about the package she'd bought online.
She got through to a customer relations rep and asked to speak to a supervisor. After several minutes passed by, she was told they were too busy to take her call.
Feeling spurned, Wiseman Yates moved to social media and posted pictures of the decaying bug on Facebook.
"That's not my typical avenue. I'm not somebody to post things on social media but I did, and I have to say, it worked because it did get a lot of response."
Suffice it say, most people were disgusted at the thought of finding a cockroach in their upscale tea. Wiseman Yates said it wasn't long before she heard from the manager of the local DavidsTea store, who apologized profusely and said her regional manager would be in touch.
As of Monday morning, Wiseman Yates said she hadn't heard from anybody.
In an emailed statement at noon, DavidsTea said they were in contact with Wiseman Yates to gather more information.
"We take the quality of our tea very seriously, and have rigorous quality assurance processes in place to maintain product integrity — from manufacturing, packaging to product warehousing," a spokesperson said. "As per usual protocol, we have notified our vendor and our quality assurance team is actively investigating.
"As this is an isolated and highly unusual event, we are not in a position to speculate as to what may have occurred."
As for the box, Wiseman Yates said her husband put it back together and set it aside. They are keeping it for now, with hopes of sending it back to the company.
"I'm hoping somebody will take it and analyze it," she said. "It's just sitting there, waiting."
She said she was a huge DavidsTea fan, but her most recent experience has turned her away from it.
"I will never touch it again."
Bugs with your pancakes?
On the other side of the province in Green's Harbour, Tammy Engle found some unexpected protein in her pancake mix on the weekend.
Set on making breakfast for herself, she went to her cupboard and took out an unopened box of Aunt Jemima.
When she poured it out into her mixing bowl, she saw what looked like black seeds all throughout the powdery mix. Her first thought was that it was mixed with flax seeds.
"As I poured more, I was like 'Oh my God, these things are moving,'" she told the St. John's Morning Show. "That whole box was infested by those little bugs."
She'd purchased the box in October and put it in her cupboard. It wasn't opened, and Engle doesn't think the bugs got in the box while it was in her house.
After contacting the parent company — Quaker, under PepsiCo — they told her it was an isolated case and not something they'd seen before.
"I'm not sure I really believe that, but that's what they said. And they offered me coupons. I told them that I would never, never buy their product again."
'We have robust quality and food safety measures'
A PepsiCo spokesperson said that the company was aware of Engle's claim and took it seriously.
Standard procedure with a complaint like this would be to retrieve the product and packaging, said PepsiCo's Sheri Morgan, but it wasn't possible in this case because both had been destroyed.
Engle said her husband burned the box in their fire pit, afraid the bugs might infest other food in their house if left alive.
It's hard to comment on the root cause of the problem without a visual inspection of the product and packaging, Morgan said.
"That said, we have robust quality and food safety measures in place in our facilities and we are regularly audited for compliance with CFIA protocols," she said.
"We do monitor our consumer feedback closely to identify opportunities to make adjustments to our products or packaging, however this claim is not indicative of a gap in our processes. We work hard to maintain our track record of delivering safe, quality products to our consumers."
With files from Newfoundland Morning and the St. John's Morning Show