CALGARY – A woman accused of inserting pins and sewing needles into food at a grocery store intends to plead not guilty.
Tatyana Granada, 43, was arrested outside her Calgary home in March and charged with mischief over $5,000.
The investigation began after a customer reported finding metal objects in food items at one of the Co-op chain’s stores in the city. Breads and cheeses were found to contain pins, sewing needles and buttons. Pins also had been placed in some produce.
There have been nearly a dozen more cases of food tampering at different Calgary grocery stores since Granada was arrested. Police have suggested the work of copycats.
The number of other cases will definitely enter into his client’s defence, lawyer Mark Takada said Wednesday.
“It raises a couple of concerns. I’ve heard the theory that there’s copycats and the other concern is they didn’t arrest the correct person this time,” Takada said outside court.
“We’ll be pleading not guilty. That’s certain.”
The total number of food tampering incidents under investigation in the city is at least 15.
Police have said not every case may involve tampering with criminal intent. Some could be the result of manufacturer defects or food damaged accidentally.
Grocery outlets have hired more security and employees have been told to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors is offering a $10,000 reward to help catch anybody who may be behind the tampering.
Granada, a mother of two, made a brief appearance in court Wednesday. The Crown requested a change in the terms of her release. She was originally banned from going within 200 metres of the Co-op store where the charges against her originated. Now, she is barred from entering any Co-op store in Alberta.
Takada said his client will enter a not guilty plea at her next court appearance May 18. Video evidence against her isn’t exactly overwhelming, he said.
“Quite frankly the quality of the surveillance video is so-so. It’s certainly not a smoking gun like a lot of other cases where the video is conclusive and you can say for certain that this shows what it purports to show.
“This shows my client shopping in a Co-op, handling items, putting some back, putting some in her basket and then going and paying. It’s really hard to determine what it depicts.”
He said the charges have been difficult on Granada, who has had a rough ride in her neighbourhood.
“She’s very unhappy. She’s very distraught about being accused of this and it’s created a lot of havoc in her neighbourhood,” he said.
“People have been phoning the house and been saying things about her.”