AUSTRALIA – Australians have been warned against eating a certain brand of spinach after it caused severe sickness and hallucinations in several people.
Health authorities in Australia’s New South Wales have reported that nine people who consumed the Riviera Farms baby spinach from Costco needed medical attention after manifesting symptoms of confusion, elevated heart rates, and blurred vision.
The spinach which were grown on a farm in Victoria and shipped to stores in NSW, according to Riviera Farms, was tainted by a weed, but no other items were impacted.
An initial recall for the product with a best-before date of December 16 was issued by New South Wales Health (NSW) Health but the company has now expanded that to include products with a best-before date of up to and including December 28.
“This is a precautionary measure and is an update on earlier advice where we stated that products with a best-before date of 16 December 2022 were impacted,” Riviera Farms said in a statement.
Additionally, NSW advised anyone who experienced any unusual symptoms after ingesting the spinach to seek medical attention.
“No one has died, so we’re very happy with that and we hope it remains that way, but these people are quite sick… to the point of marked hallucinations, where they are seeing things that aren’t there,” Dr. Darren Roberts, from the state’s Poisons Information Centre, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
A representative for Riviera Farms claimed that they had taken quick action by requesting that stores take the products off the shelf.
“There is no suggestion, and to our knowledge no possibility, that any other products have been impacted by this weed,” they said.
According to NSW Health, all of the individuals affected so far are from Sydney, but as it investigates, it has notified authorities in other jurisdictions.
“Riviera Farms has been in the business of providing fresh food since the 1880s and have been saddened by this incident, which is the first in our long history of providing fresh food products.
We continue to work pro-actively and transparently with our customers and regulators on this issue,” expressed the Farm via a statement.
It is not the first food-related scare to hit Australia. In November, toxic poppy seeds left several people in hospital.
Several cases of “severe toxicity” were reported after people consumed the seeds in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. Various brands were recalled from shops.
After a scare in 2018 when needles were found hidden in strawberries across many regions, Australian authorities upped the prison term for contaminating food to 15 years. As a precaution, New Zealand recalled the sale of Australian strawberries.