The Prince Edward Island potato industry is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for recent tampering incidents involving sewing needles being embedded in fresh potatoes.

PEI growers offer reward in tampering caseThe needles have been found by consumers, according to officials with the PEI Potato Board, and have involved fresh potatoes from Linkletter Farms, owned by Gary Linkletter, chairman of the industry board.

Linkletter did not attend the board"s Nov. 10 press conference on the reward, citing conflict of interest concerns because his company has been the victim of the tampering incidents. In an interview with The (Montreal) Guardian, Linkletter said the tampering incident were limited to his farm and were not an industrywide occurrence.

"For the health of Linkletter Farms and the entire industry, we know we all wish to see this incident resolved as quickly as possible," said PEI board general manager Greg Donald in a news release issued after the press conference.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been investigating the tampering for several weeks. During the first week of November members of the RCMP told The Guardian the investigation was delayed because growers had to stop X-raying harvested potatoes in order to get in the remaining crop.

The major crimes unit of the RCMP and members of the East Prince Detachment have been working the case, which involves potatoes shipped to retailers in the Atlantic provinces, according the RCMP website.

The $50,000 reward is available through Jan. 31, according to the PEI board news release. If someone is convicted in the case, an independent panel will determine whether anyone is eligible to collect the reward. Anonymous tips are not eligible for the reward.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP office on the island at 902-436-9300 or send e-mail to [email protected].