Aldi Supermarkets pulled all red, green and black grapes from Milwaukee-area stores and promised to beef up inspections after a shopper found a venomous black widow spider in a red grape container at the Wauwatosa Aldi on Thursday.
"At Aldi, we are committed to providing high quality products," the company said in a statement emailed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after being contacted by a reporter. "We sincerely regret any inconvenience or concern this situation may have caused."
Yvonne Duckhorn of Milwaukee told the newspaper that she was shopping Thursday afternoon at the Aldi store at 12120 W. Burleigh St. with her 4-year-old daughter when she picked up a clear container of red grapes that was on sale.
She flipped the container over to check for mold and eyeballed the grapes to look for soft ones. Then she flipped the container right side up and noticed the top was popped open a little.
That's when she spotted something moving inside.
"I saw the legs moving frantically," Duckhorn recalled. "I've seen bugs on fruit before, and I thought, 'That is a very big spider.' Nothing I'd ever seen before."
Duckhorn said she became especially concerned when she noticed red on the black spider. She looked around for an employee, and when she didn't immediately find one, grabbed a clear plastic produce bag and dumped the container of grapes inside it. She didn't want to leave the spider for someone else to find, she said.
Duckhorn tried to hand the bag of grapes to a cashier, but when she told the cashier there was a large spider in it, the cashier called another employee, who took the bag away.
"I could tell she was a little nervous," Duckhorn said of the second employee. "I told her the spider had red on it, and to be careful."
Aldi said in its statement that it immediately pulled grapes from Milwaukee-area stores "out of an abundance of caution," and that the company was implementing additional inspection procedures at all warehouses and stores. The company also reiterated its guarantee of a refund to any customer not 100% satisfied with a food product.
Black widow spiders, which build webs in grape vineyards to capture insects, have occasionally been found in supermarket grapes since the mid-1990s. That's when growers came under pressure to cut back on insecticide use because of high levels of pesticide residue on grapes. Black widows that accidentally get picked with the grapes can slip past inspectors.