Beef jerky (Black Press Files)

Beef jerky (Black Press Files)

Recalled jerky that led to health complaints, positive cannabis tests in 2020 is now the subject of lawsuits

Plaintiffs claim jerky made by Whitehorse shop led to unpleasant effects for consumers

The allegedly THC-laced jerky that prompted a recall of meat products made by a Whitehorse shop in 2020 has now prompted a pair of lawsuits from people who ate the jerky and were incapacitated by its effects.

Two statements of claim related to the jerky were filed with the Yukon Supreme Court on Dec. 13. John Pauch, doing business as Off the Hook Meatworks, is listed as the defendant on both; the plaintiff of one is a lone woman and the other suit was filed by a group of four people including two children.

The plaintiff in one of the suits claims that she and her daughter each ate from a package of jerky that the plaintiff had purchased directly from Off the Hook Meatwork’s shop in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2020. After eating the jerky, the plaintiff claims she was “seriously incapacitated” and suffered a variety of injuries that she attributes to the negligence of Off the Hook Meatworks and its owner. The injuries alleged include short-term paralysis, nausea and vomiting, paranoia, cognitive and motor impairment, severe anxiety, cardiac stress and post-traumatic stress. The woman alleges ongoing lingering effects after consuming the jerky.

The second lawsuit, launched on behalf of four plaintiffs, states they purchased Off the Hook Meatworks jerky from a third-party retailer on Dec. 14, 2020. The plaintiffs split a bag of the jerky on Dec. 29 and it is claimed that the effects incapacitated them for the following 24 to 36 hours.

This group of plaintiffs state they complained to the RCMP and provided a sample of the remaining jerky. They were also assessed at Whitehorse’s hospital and discharged while still impaired. Their list of effects is similar to the other plaintiffs and they allege the effects also linger requiring ongoing treatment and therapy.

Neither lawsuit specifically mentions THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, but both lawsuits refer to the Dec. 30, 2020 recall of the jerky by the Yukon government’s environmental health services branch. A notice about the recall states that the removal of jerky from store shelves was voluntary and it advised anyone who had purchased the beef or bison jerky not to consume it. It noted that the products could have been contaminated with a foreign material that could pose a health hazard — THC was found in the systems of the complainants who were assessed at the hospital.

The allegations in the lawsuits had not been heard or proven in court and no statement of defence had been filed in either lawsuit as of Dec. 19. An email to an address listed on Off the Hook Meatworks’ Facebook page was not returned by the News’ deadline.

A different butcher shop operating under a new name has replaced Off the Hook Meatworks in its downtown Whitehorse location.

Pauch also faces a possible summary conviction for violating the territory’s Cannabis Control and Regulation Act. A trial date for this matter has been set for next March.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com