Several Woolworth’s customers posted photos of spiders found in broccoli purchased at an Australian location, prompting the supermarket to withdraw the batch of broccoli from three suppliers in the area.
On April 16, Woolworth’s customer Dee Nott posted a photo of a redback spider she found in broccoli she purchased at the chain’s Runaway Bay store in Queensland, Australia. She wrote:
Hi team Woolworths. I just had a nasty surprise – a live redback spider in my broccoli purchased today at your Runaway Bay store. I am lucky it did not bite me as I washed it. I plan to take in the critter (now frozen) and my receipt tomorrow. I thought I should mention it in case there is an infestation.
Woolworth’s immediately responded to the post:
We’re very concerned about this, Dee, and take incidents like this very seriously. Please let us know your phone number, and state, in a Private Message at http://www.facebook.com/messages/woolworths so that we can follow this up with you ASAP. Thanks.
Another customer also claimed to have found a redback in a batch of broccoli. Maurice Wilson told Fairfax Media, “I noticed a little black, but I continued to cut through it and I noticed this thing lunged out at my finger and I thought, ‘What the hell?’ I dropped it and it came out and it was a redback spider, as you can see on the photo, clearly on the broccoli.”
In the wake of multiple customer complaints regarding spiders found in broccoli, Woolworth’s announced it would withdraw the batch while they investigated the reports.
Wilson said that the store gave him a $20 gift card, and the head office gave him a $30 gift card.
A Woolworth’s spokesman told Brisbane Times, “Supply of this batch of product has been temporarily suspended while we work closely with three of our Queensland suppliers to ensure we are receiving the best-quality produce. We are currently in contact with customers who have brought concerns to our attention.”
One of the broccoli suppliers said that the spider’s presence was due to integrated pest management. Growers use “beneficial bugs” such as spiders to consume pests, which in turn allows them to use less pesticides.
Because the company has multiple suppliers, the withdrawn batch would not affect broccoli supplies.
According to Museum Victoria, the bite from a redback spider is “highly venomous.” Symptoms from a bite can include pain, sweating, muscular weakness, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, and convulsions.