A Queensland baby admitted to hospital is among more than 100 people believed to have experienced symptoms after eating spinach amid a widespread recall of fresh food contaminated with “unsafe plant material”.
Authorities say the spinach withdrawal, believed to be from a single source, caused delirium and hallucinations.
People are urged to check and unpack any recalled products that have been sold at Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and Costco. Food Standard Australia New Zealand (Fsanz) is coordinating a recall of products it says are “from a single source”.
Almost 90 people in New South Wales have reported symptoms so far after eating baby spinach with at least 33 people seeking medical attention.
The baby, who was taken to a Queensland hospital on Saturday night before being released on Sunday, was one of 11 possible cases in that state so far.
At least 11 Victorians have gone to emergency departments after eating baby spinach in recent days.
Products recalled so far include:
NSW Health said people needed to check any products and throw away those listed in the recall.
“The recalled products are not safe for consumption and persons who purchased these recalled products must dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund,” a spokesperson said.
“NSW Health is working with the NSW Food Authority, as well as other jurisdictions, to further investigate the problem.”
Symptoms can be severe and include delirium or confusion, hallucinations, widened pupils, rapid heart rate, flushing of the face, blurred vision, dry mouth and skin, and fever.
Investigators from the Food Standards Authority believe spinach is contaminated with “unsafe plant material”.
A company spokesperson said: “Vances has been advised that there is likely to be a single source of contamination and is working through the supply chain with relevant jurisdictions to ensure that any other affected products are identified.”
The agency is working with state and territory health authorities to make sure people are aware of all recoveries.
Anyone concerned that they may be affected is urged to seek medical attention.
The CEO of vegetable maker AUSVEG, Michael Cote, asked shoppers to take the advice of their local health authority and not to consume the recalled produce.
“The health and safety of consumers is a top priority for our industry, so we urge consumers to follow the advice of recall notices and seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health,” said Coote.
“However, it is important to remember that only a few products have recall notices, and our food and retail safety sector works to remove affected products as soon as there is a concern for people’s health.”
Coote urged Australians not to give up spinach completely before Christmas.
“AUSVEG has had reports of growers over the past 24 hours who were not included in the recall but experienced low orders and low sales, adding to the pressures they face during this time of year,” he said.
“Given the approach of Christmas and holiday season — the busiest time in our industry — this is concerning and avoidable.”
Coles was caught in the recall on Saturday, issuing a warning for several private label spinach products with use-by dates between 17 and 22 Deecember. It was available in stores in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Northern Territory and ACT.
The supermarket giant has released a list of the items being recalled and reassured customers that no Coles’ pre-packaged spinach or salad products will be affected.
After some of its products were recalled, Rivera Farms said Friday it had contacted all 20 of its spinach customers.
“We have worked proactively and transparently with our customers and regulators,” a Riviera spokesperson said in a statement.