A MOTHER was appalled to find a hypodermic needle stuck in a yellow pepper while she prepared a family barbecue.
Mary Leatherbarrow was slicing up the pepper bought from the Spar store in Western Avenue, Blacon, when she made the shocking discovery.
The Spar has apologised and handed over CCTV footage to police in a bid to trace whoever has put the needle into the pack of three peppers.
Mrs Leatherbarrow, is a mother of three young children, of Ashfield Crescent, Blacon.
She said: 'I came home to make the salad. I chopped up the red pepper and I found the syringe stuck in the yellow pepper. It was a needle and another part of it, may be a nozzle or something.'
Her husband John took the pepper back to the Spar who offered to replace it.
'You don't know if someone had gone around pushing it into the food and then left it in the pepper,' she said.
'People in the Spar found another bit of it. They said they had found the lid and were looking for the other part but couldn't find it until John appeared.'
Mrs Leatherbarrow said her young son, Joe, who was five yesterday, could easily have climbed on the work surface and grabbed the brightly coloured pepper.
Mrs Leatherbarrow, who used to work in accounts for estate agents Denton Clark, said police had taken the pepper away for disposal.
Husband John, who runs his own plumbing and heating business, said: 'We thought somebody had been round the Spar shop injecting stuff into the fruit and veg,' he said.
He said the store had given the family flowers and a £20 voucher.
'What if Mary had tried to rip the pepper apart with her fingers...it's unbelievable.'
A Spar spokeswoman said the company had apologised 'profusely' to the family.
She said the shop served an area 'renowned' for drug use and staff did all they could to monitor the shop.
She confirmed police had been informed and CCTV footage handed over, adding: 'Staff are continually on their guard. We do have problems with druggies but not generally with needles, more with thieving.' firstname.lastname@example.org