Children at the BCIT Student Association (BCITSA) Childcare Centre could have been served a very dangerous batch of grapes if the deadly black widow spider hidden inside them wasn’t seen as early as it was.
Purchased from the Superstore on Scott Road in Delta, BCITSA Childcare Centre Manager kept the grapes in her fridge for a few days.
When the fruit was taken to BCIT to serve to the children, D’Altroy’s colleague discovered the venomous spider while washing them.
D’Altroy said she had a feeling it was a dangerous spider as soon as her colleague brought it to her attention.
“It kind of looked like a shrivelled up little grape, but then we got it out of there and we put it into a container and saw an hour glass on it,” said D’Altroy. “We looked it up on the Internet under spiders of Mexico and that was the first one that popped up was a black widow.”
D’Altroy and her colleague took the spider to a pet store where they confirmed that it was, in fact, a black widow spider.
When Superstore became aware of the incident, they issued a $25 gift certificate to D’Altroy for the inconvenience.
Melinda Metcalfe, director of public relations for Loblaws, the retailer that franchises Superstore, said the presence of spiders does not damage or poison the grapes and when grapes are harvested, and that every bunch is carefully examined and placed into a package.
[pullquote] “We have visually inspected the grapes currently at the store and have found no insects.” [/pullquote]
“We have visually inspected the grapes currently at the store and have found no insects,” said Metcalfe. “We also have had no additional complaints regarding spiders found in grapes purchased at this store.”
Because other customers may have purchased that batch of grapes, D’Altroy was especially concerned at the discovery of the black widow.
[pullquote] “My thought was what if it was someone elderly that bought them and they didn’t see the spider in there.” [/pullquote]
“My thought was what if it was someone elderly that bought them and they didn’t see the spider in there,” said D’Altroy.
Loblaws suggests children and adults who are not in good physical health should particularly careful and that grapes should be removed from the bunch if they are to be given to a toddler or young child.
According to Loblaw, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recommends that spiders found in produce be killed, not captured.
“If a customer finds a spider or its web, we advise that they dispose of it immediately, without touching it,” explained Metcalfe. “Grapes should always be washed thoroughly under warm, running water, which will immobilize any live spiders and wash them into the sink.”
Metcalfe adds that if a customer finds a spider web or spider in their grapes, they should always report it to the CFIA office in their region.
The grapes were red seedless from Mexico in a clamshell container and were purchased on July 2, 2013.
Neetu was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley (minus the few toddler years she spent living in Punjab, India where her line of heritage is from). She moved to the lower mainland to attend BCIT and is now in her graduating year of the Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. Her writing and editing for Link magazine often happens late at night because when she’s not at school she works as a reporter and anchor for CKNW Newstalk 980 and is also involved in the start up of a charity called the Beautiful World Foundation. She loves to travel and feels fortunate to be in a field where she can share the stories of interesting and inspiring people from around the world.