WADSWORTH: Rose Carducci loves her spinach. She often buys five bags a week. But not anymore.
“My daughter has low iron levels so I do a lot with spinach, spinach omelets, spinach with dinner and spinach salads. We go through a lot,” she said.
When she looked at a plastic bag of spinach on Monday and found what she believes is a bird bone, she lost her taste for the healthy vegetable.
“It’s been traumatizing,” she said. “This week I haven’t had any salad. I can’t stomach the thought of eating spinach right now, which I hope changes. But I keep picturing the foot. I keep imagining if I wouldn’t have opened it or had it on my fork.”
She called Dole, the company that made the product that claims to be ready to eat, and Buehler’s, the Wadsworth grocery store where she bought it.
She said Dole took a suspicious tone.
“He said, ‘What you claim to be a bird,’ ” she said recalling the conversation. “ ‘What you claim to be a bird’s foot’ and I said, ‘IT IS!’ ”
Dole offered to send a courier to pick up the bag so it could be inspected, but when the company did not answer all of her questions by Friday, she postponed the pickup until she could share her story with reporters.
She praised Buehler’s for how they handled the situation by apologizing, vowing to check the remaining spinach stock and offering to refund the $2.49 she paid for it.
Store Manager Dave Cleckner confirmed Carducci’s report, saying the stock was checked, the wholesaler was informed. The manager again apologized.
He’s also waiting to hear from Dole.
“Until the customer has it resolved with Dole, I don’t want to say it’s resolved,” Cleckner said.
William Goldfield, communication director for Dole, said the company apologized to Carducci.
“This is the first thing we have heard on it so anytime any of our products don’t meet up to our standards we are investigating and take any consumer complaint very seriously,” he said.
No other problems with that batch of salad have been reported, he said.
The object will go to a laboratory to determine what it is and Goldfield promised to report the results.
Carducci said she has no plans to sue, although she did mention talking to a lawyer when calling Dole to get their attention. She insists the experience did change her life and she continues to fret about what might have happened.
“What if I didn’t check? You know, and I had eaten it?” she said. “The people that don’t catch it and they eat it? I want people to be aware to check their food and for Dole to take it seriously.”
Some claims of contaminated food have turned out to be hoaxes but Carducci’s spinach bag was unopened. It had a “Enjoy By 4-21” label. The object in the bag looks like a bone and certainly is not spinach.
The prospect that it might be a bird was particularly alarming.
“If it was a bug, I would understand,” she said. “But a bird!”
As reporters were leaving her home, she said she would call Dole again to have the bag picked up and examined.
She also expects an investigation by Dole.
“I want them to make sure the rest of the bird isn’t out there or check their practices and find out how part of an animal got in,” she said. “They say they wash the bagged spinach three times. How did part of an animal get in my bag?”
In the past, she used to take spinach right out the bag and put it into the blender to make smoothies for her family.
Now she vows never to buy the bagged product again and if she wants spinach, she will inspect and buy the loose variety sold by stores.
She will not change grocers.
“It’s not Buehler’s fault,” she said. “It’s bagged from the factory.”
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.