Dad upset after finding swastika image in child's surprise bag

A P.E.I. father found a swastika image on sheet of children's stick-on tattoos in a surprise bag, prompting the distributor to recall the product.

Distributor recalls product after P.E.I. father complains

The swastika image was found on a kid's stick-on tattoo. (Laura Meader/CBC)

A P.E.I. father was shocked after finding a picture of a swastika in his child's surprise bag, but Mitchell MacQuarrie says he's pleased the distributor has decided to recall the bags.

MacQuarrie bought the Ultimate Gourmet surprise bag at a local convenience store for his seven-year-old son.  A sheet of about a dozen stick-on tattoos contained one thumb-sized image with a snake next to a swastika. 

"I noticed it right away" said MacQuarrie. "It's just not acceptable to me and a lot of other people." 

Mitchell MacQuarrie shows the surprise bag he bought for his son. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Wants to raise awareness

MacQuarrie said the symbol represents Nazism to him, although the symbol can mean well-being or good luck in some cultures. 

MacQuarrie had an uncle who fought in World War II.

"I found it alarming, I guess would be the way to put it. This day and age you think there would be a better screening process." he said. 

MacQuarrie said he explained to his son it was a bad symbol and he couldn't put the tattoo on. "He actually took it, crumpled it up and put it in the garbage can," said MacQuarrie, who retrieved it from the garbage to show CBC and the store. 

MacQuarrie buys the bags for his son regularly and felt it was important to get the word out.

Distributor recalls bags

MacQuarrie bought the bag from a local store, which got it from a local distributor, which is a member of a group called United Distribution Network or UDN.

UDN is a group of independent direct store delivery distributors. In a statement sent to CBC News, UDN said the product was produced by a third party and no UDN members or employees were involved in the manufacturing.

"UDN is appalled that this item was found in a product that we distribute and will take immediate action to insure no other such item is in our system," wrote Dave Desjardins, General Manager of UDN. 

The distributor wrote while it believes this was an isolated incident "we take this distasteful situation very seriously." UDN told its members to contact businesses that purchased the bags and have them removed from store shelves.

UDN said it will "monitor quality control ever more stringently".

The swastika was part of a sheet of stick-on tattoos. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The supplier that sold the bags to some UDN members, Distribution Yvan Nadeau, also sent a statement to CBC News expressing "deep regrets for the inappropriate object found by a customer in a surprise bag."

Jean-Francois Lamoureux, national sales representative for Distribution Yvan Nadeau, wrote that the company does not "endorse in any way the image [found] in the bag," and he also writes, "I have express[ed] our deepest regrets directly to the concern[ed] customer."  

Lamoureux also said his company received the bags, already sealed, from another contractor — someone who has since died. 

Both companies are working on the recall and said several dozen bags have been checked since, and no other swastikas have turned up.

CBC was not able to locate the original manufacturer of the tattoo.

Dad hopes for better screening

MacQuarrie said the local P.E.I store took the product off the shelves right away. 

He also said when speaking to the supplier in Quebec, he was pleased with the response. "They did pull them off the shelves, from what he told me ... It's all I could ask for really,"

"Nobody else needs to find something like that in their child's treat bag," said MacQuarrie. 

Despite the experience he's not turned off from buying surprise type bags again, because his son likes them but he said this is a good lesson to parents to always go through the bags.