New Zealand; Contaminated peas prompt food safety investigation

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Black Nightshade can cause a severe reaction in children

Mon, 06 Apr 2009 4:50p.m.


Humphrey Elton is one of half a dozen people who have found toxic Black Nightshade in a bag of Talley’s frozen peas and corn mix.

He had served the peas to his two young children - including four-year-old Molly before he realised what was in them.

Luckily they didn't eat the peas, but when he complained to Talley’s they assured him it wasn't a big deal.

“They said ‘oh this is a common agricultural weed, nothing to worry about’ and then they sent us a cheque for five dollars saying buy more Talley’s,” says Humphrey.

But Black Nightshade is a big deal, unlike Deadly Nightshade it's not fatal but if a child or baby consumes just a handful it can cause a severe reaction, including fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

“There were almost as many nightshade as there were peas and so from the guy that was harvesting to the guy that was bagging to the guy that was freezing it, no one cared along the chain obviously,” says Humphrey.

That was last August, around the same time the New Zealand food safety authority received six complaints about Black Nightshade in Talley’s frozen peas. It was assured then that the problem had been dealt with but a similar incident last week has prompted the authority to investigate Talley’s.

 “The difference this year is we're being reported larger proportions of contamination and from that point of view that makes us more concerned because it appears Talley’s systems are less in control than we thought they were,” says Geoff Allen of the NZ Food Safety Authority.

Talley’s refused an interview with 3 News but sent a statement saying it's recalled the batch of peas containing black nightshade and that all the reported incidences are from the same batch.

3 News




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