Police investigating after 5th playground smeared with peanut butter
Published Thursday, August 18, 2016 3:17PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, August 18, 2016 7:02PM EDT
Toronto police are investigating after peanut butter was found smeared on a children’s playground in a west-end park.
The peanut butter – a potentially deadly allergen -- was found spread across park equipment yesterday at Wadsworth park, located on Connolly Street and Laughton Avenue.
This is the fifth known report of peanut butter being found on park equipment in the city but it’s the first time police have treated the incident as a criminal investigation.
Last week, a parent of a young child discovered peanut butter on a play structure at Dufferin Grove Park -- and posted about it on Facebook. Her post went viral as concerned parents warned others of the discovery.
According to the city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, residents have reported finding peanut butter on playgrounds in Carleton Park, Perth Square and Hillcrest Park since June.
The city said staff investigated each of the claims but only found the peanut butter at Dufferin Grove. They advised anyone who spotted peanut butter on any public structure to call 311 immediately.
Carlos Vieria, a young boy who was playing at Wadsworth Park at time, discovered the peanut butter. Vieria said he knows three people personally who have severe peanut allergies and is shocked by the circumstances.
"It looked like someone maybe put their hand in a jar of peanut butter and just wiped it," he said. "I stick my hand on it to try to climb up and I look at my hand and it’s full of peanut butter. It was lathered in peanut butter."
Vieria pointed out several areas on the playground structure where he found peanut butter smeared. He said he reported the discovery to his babysitter immediately.
Parents who were at the park Thursday afternoon told CTV Toronto said the discovery is a "big concern."
"It's a big fear. And honestly, if I knew about the peanut butter I probably wouldn't have come here today," Veronica, a parent at the park, told CTV Toronto.
"I know how bad allergies are getting these days. It's quite insidious," another parent said.
According to Health Canada, a child with peanut allergies is at significant risk of a fatal anaphylaxis reaction if they become exposed to the spread.
Food Allergy Canada, a non-profit organization that aims to educate Canadians with food allergies, condemned the incident following the discovery last week.
“It is an upsetting situation for everyone,” Christopher Holcroft, a consultant with Food Allergy Canada, said in a statement on the matter issued last week.
“The safe management of food allergies, particularly among children, is a shared responsibility. Any attempt to discourage children with a peanut allergy from enjoying a day at the park is unacceptable.”
Parents told CTV Toronto they have started inspecting the playground before letting their kids use the equipment.
Police are investigating the incident at Wadsworth Park but it was not immediately clear if the other parks where peanut butter was reported found will also be included in their investigation.
Anyone with information about the incidents is being asked to call police at 416-808-1100 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).