Last week, one London family received the scare of their life when they received their shipment of groceries from Waitrose, an online grocery delivery service. As the father, Tim, was unpacking the bananas, he was surprised to find a creepy crawly little stowaway hiding in the fruit. What he did not know at the time was that the uninvited guest was the world’s most venomous spider. The Brazilian wandering spider spooked the frightened father, who accidentally dropped the bananas into a fruit bowl.
The Brazilian wandering spider’s bite causes hours of pain, swelling, increased heartbeat, increased salivation, paralysis, and sometimes death. Want to be even more creeped out? These spiders have leg spans between five to six inches. They are far from the largest spider, but they are incredibly dangerous.
The family left the house immediately and called Waitrose to get the situation figured out. Waitrose sent in a representative to catch the trapped spider, unfortunately for the family, the spider had chewed through its leg and scurried off into the house somewhere. After the news was broken to Waitrose, an expert was called in to trap the spider and kill the eggs that had been laid throughout the house. When the expert found the eight-legged beast, it was perched on its hind legs exposing its sharp fangs. The wandering spider was eventually captured and the eggs were destroyed, however, Tim and his family were too horrified to return to the house.
It is unknown if any lawsuits will be filed against Waitrose, but the father did have some words to say about the scare. After the incident, he said, “Although people might think these things are funny, I keep thinking that the spider could have killed me, or my son, if he had gone to get a banana.” Although this may have been an isolated incident, consumers who have seen these reports are sure to be more hesitant to make similar purchases with Waitrose. After all, no one wants a giant, ugly spider in their food.
The supermarket and online grocery provider receives their bananas from an importer, who collects the fruit from South America. Although the fruit importers normally clean off the fruit, one tenacious spider got through. Showing that even though importers took measures to prevent this situation from happening, it was not enough.
What does this mean for Waitrose?
A simple mistake could cost them dearly. The last thing any food related brand wants to be known for is pests in their produce. This issue does not stop with Tim and his family. Now that at least one Brazilian Wandering spider has made its way into the UK, there is a possibility that others may make it as well. Some citizens are concerned that a wandering spider could potentially infest the United Kingdom and claim it as their new home. While this issue is being discussed, Waitrose remains the cause of the problem in the eyes of consumers.
Waitrose is by no means the only company to every have something like this happen. In 2003, a customer at Popeye’s found a dead rat fried with his fried chicken. Another man found an animal tooth in his Kraft brand peanuts. A dead rat was found tightly sealed in a loaf of bread in Bath, UK. In many of these cases, the pictures spread virally and often receive news coverage, which spells disaster for the brand involved.
The lesson here for food brands is to make sure that your sanitation and quality control processes are even more strenuous. News like this can cause disaster for brand image and eventually escalate into full-fledged financial disaster.