Department of Health

Health alert for toxic reaction linked to spinach product

Health alert

Status:
Active
Alert number:
221216
Date issued:
16 Dec 2022 - update to Alert issued 16 December 2022
Issued by:
Dr Danny Csutoros, Acting Deputy Chief Health Officer Environment
Issued to:
Health professionals and Victorian community

Key messages

  • After a number of reported cases of food-related toxic reactions, people are advised not to consume certain products containing baby spinach.
  • The products are not safe to consume and should be discarded into the rubbish bin or returned to place of purchase for a full refund.
  • National food recalls are currently underway to remove affected products identified to date.
  • See Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) for the brands and batch numbers currently affected and monitor this website closely for ongoing updates.
  • Initial investigations suggest potential contamination of affected baby spinach with unsafe plant material.
  • Affected persons have developed unusual and severe symptoms including, nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, blurred vision, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, difficulty passing urine, hallucinations and confusion.
  • Anyone concerned about exposure to this spinach product should contact Victorian Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26, and those with severe symptoms should call triple zero (000).
  • The Victorian Department of Health is working closely with other jurisdictions to investigate and resolve this issue. 

What is the issue?

Reports of unusual and severe symptoms following consumption of ‘Riviera Farms’ branded baby spinach have occurred within Victoria, ACT and NSW. The affected baby spinach was sold through Costco with an expiry date from 16 December up to and including 28 December 2022.

Further traceback investigations have now identified other brands and products containing the potentially contaminated baby spinach. As the investigation continues, more products may be identified and recalled. The list of affected brands will continue to be updated and published on the FSANZ website.

Clinical presentations of affected individuals are suggestive of anticholinergic syndrome, and have included:

  • delirium or confusion
  • hallucination (visual and tactile)
  • mydriasis (dilated pupils)
  • blurred vision
  • tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • flushed face
  • dry mouth and skin
  • fever
  • slurred speech
  • nausea and vomiting
  • urinary retention.

The onset of symptoms has been reported to occur soon after consumption of the affected baby spinach (within hours).

The affected baby spinach is not safe to eat, and consumers should discard it into their general waste. 

Initial investigations are suggestive of accidental contamination of the affected baby spinach. The Victorian Department of Health is working closely with other jurisdictions to investigate further. 

Recommendations

For the public

The affected baby spinach is not safe to eat

Visit the FSANZ website for the most up to date list of recalled products. 

If you have purchased one of the recalled products, you are advised to dispose of it in the rubbish bin or return to the place of purchase for a full refund. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms listed above following baby spinach consumption.

For help:

  • Call the Victorian Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26).
  • Call Triple Zero (000) for emergency assistance if required.

For the health professionals 

Health professionals should:

  • Be aware of patients presenting with the above clinical presentation.
  • Advise affected individuals not to consume the affected baby spinach, and to throw out the food product. 
  • Notify the Department of Health on 1300 651 160 (24 hours).
  • Please contact the Victorian Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26) for the latest clinical advice. 

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Reviewed 17 December 2022

Health.vic

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