Australia – Cause of illnesses from spinach in Australia identified; Costco among stores that received product

Food Safety News

Investigations into almost 200 foodborne illnesses in Australia after eating a brand of baby spinach have revealed what caused the illnesses.

Riviera Farms said the spinach was contaminated with a weed called thornapple. The scientific name is Datura stramonium and it is also known as jimsonweed. How the weed got into the food supply is still being investigated by Victorian authorities with site inspections underway.

Riviera Farms issued a recall of baby spinach after reports of customers falling ill. The company then contacted its 20 clients. Costco is the only direct major retail client, however, the product was also sold to stores such as Coles, Aldi, and Woolworths.

Spinach products were grown on a farm in Victoria and shipped to several stores across the country. More than 190 potential cases were reported in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, and Queensland.

There have been several hospitalizations. Toxicological impacts are still to be confirmed but it is understood most people experienced symptoms for a short time and then recovered.

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