By Andrea Pyka
Maple Leaf Foods, the largest meat processor in Canada, has recalled all ham products and lunch meats after finding a syringe casing stuck to a ham.
The recalled meat products are not labeled under the Maple Leaf Brand, but are distributed to Canadian stores nationwide through Kent Smoked Hams and Schneider’s Lifestyle Fat Free Cooked Sliced Ham.
Linda Smith, spokesperson for Maple Leaf Foods, explained that all products vulnerable to any tampering have all been returned to the plant for further testing.
"One hundred percent of all the products were retrieved within a day and a half," she said. "Most of the products never left the plant and were only distributed in Canada."
This recent finding is the third time in 10 days that a syringe casing has been found near any type of meat products at the Maple Leaf plant.
Garfield Balsom, a food safety officer at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), explained that two of the syringes were found in meat during the processing stage and only one syringe was found in a finished ham.
The facility uses three to four different syringes for analytical purposes, Bolsom said, but what was found in these three hams were not instruments belonging to Maple Leaf Foods.
The syringe casings were tested for harmful materials, showing traces of Heparin Lock Flush Solution, a saline solution containing Heparin, which is a nutrient used as a blood thinner.
Sheri Sobin, Patient Care Coordinator at the UC Santa Cruz Student Health Center, said that Heparin lock flush is a sterile solution that is mainly used as a blood thinner and prevents the formation of blood clots in a person’s body.
Sobin explained that the solution is used to flush IV lines in a person’s body to keep them open and flowing freely. Balsom also noted that the solution is not harmful to the public.
Police are still investigating the incident, but Balsom insisted the source of the problem comes from outside of the facility.
Although the saline solution contained within the syringe poses no health risks, Balsom still cautions consumers not to eat certain hams and sliced meat products from Maple Leaf Foods, for fear that the products may be contaminated.
Timothy Cheung, a second-year student at UCSC, isn’t concerned about eating something that may have been tampered with, and wonders why people are still worried.
"Every day people are eating food that has been pumped with chemicals; we aren’t fully aware of what is going into our food," Cheung said. For more information or a full list of the recalled products visit the Maple Leaf Foods website at: http://www.mapleleaf.ca/