Beetle makes surprise appearance in Ontario woman's organic salad

A Toronto woman says it's "creepy" that a beetle made a cameo appearance in her organic mixed greens.

'It made me feel kind of unsafe that this thing got into my food,' says Erin Cameron

A prepared salad purchased at Loblaws had an exotic passenger that has questionable health benefits when ingested 1:54

There are many places in the world where insects are a staple of local diets, but Canada is not one of them.

That's why Erin Cameron was shocked to find a beetle in her mixed greens while preparing lunch. 

"I took a scoop, just with my hands, of the lettuce, and put it into my bowl," she recalls. "Right away I noticed there was a giant bug inside ... and I kind of freaked out."

Cameron says she also discovered some disturbing information after taking to the internet to investigate the bug.

"We Googled it and it was this poisonous kind of blister beetle," she said.

The beetle hiding in Toronto resident Erin Cameron's salad. Can you identify this insect? (CBC)
While CBC was unable to verify the beetle's species, Cameron believes it is an iron cross blister beetle, a variety that secretes a toxic chemical that can cause irritating blisters.

Researchers have previously found that blister beetles can be lethal to animals when eaten — a disturbing prospect for Cameron, who ate a portion of the salad the night before discovering the bug in the package.

"It's scary. You think, 'What if I had eaten it? What if a pet or a child had eaten it?'"

She says she bought the organic mixed greens at a Loblaws supermarket at the corner of Queen and Portland streets in Toronto. 

Loblaws Canada declined an on-camera interview, but sent an email statement to CBC News saying the company had been in contact with Cameron.

Cameron says she ate a portion of the mixed greens before discovering the large beetle. (CBC)
"The safety and satisfaction of our customers is extremely important to us and we are investigating her concern with our quality team," the statement said. 

Cameron has also contacted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is investigating. 

She says it might be a while before she digs into another salad. 

"It's creepy," Cameron said. "It made me feel kind of unsafe that this thing got into my food."

Similar beetle reported in several American states

People have reported finding similar-looking beetles in their salads across the United States.

Beetles were found in in California, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, and twice in Illinois. The reports came all within the past two weeks. All were found in organic lettuce, spinach, or packaged salads.

The salad-eaters have been posting photos of the beetles online, mainly to a Reddit page called What Is This Bug?

Amateur bug experts online have identified the beetle as an iron cross blister beetle in each case.

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