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Coles customer's warning after 'spiked weed' pulled from mouth

The retailer has responded after being alerted to the incident.

A supermarket shopper has issued a warning for Coles customers to "beware" after an "unpleasant" discovery inside her bag of baby spinach. The mum said she didn't realise what had happened until it was too late.

"I had cooked a spinach dahl and while my husband was eating it he pulled the spiked weed from his mouth," Theresa Sheriff told Yahoo News Australia about the incident. "There were no injuries as he immediately knew it was different in texture and said it tasted weird and spiky. But I do think if he had tried to swallow it there may have been a problem."

In a photo shared online, the empty plastic bag that the baby spinach came in "washed and ready to eat" can be seen next to the greenery with spiky thorns coming out of it.

Spiky weed on empty packet of Coles baby spinach
A Coles shopper says spiky greenery in a packet of baby spinach could have caused an injury. Source: Facebook

"I think my husband thought I was trying to do him an injury," the Lake Macquarie woman joked, before explaining that it couldn't have come from any other ingredient "as the only other greenery was finely chopped coriander".

"My daughter and I took photos and she immediately emailed Coles and I posted them to the Facebook group as I was concerned it may be in more than one package and the spines were sharp," she said.

Coles investigates

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a Coles spokesperson confirmed the supermarket giant is looking into the incident. "Food safety is paramount at Coles," they said. "Weed control is an important part of growing leafy vegetables. We work with our growers to eradicate weeds from paddocks before sowing, with regular inspections and removal while crops grow. Our suppliers take great care when processing vegetables such as spinach and use a range of inspection and removal methods to find weeds that may occasionally get caught up in the harvest."

Coles added that this was an "isolated case" which they are investigating with their supplier, "who will heighten their weed controls to prevent this recurring".

Hundreds sick after consuming contaminated salads

It's not the first time a spiky surprise has made its way into a salad bag at Coles. In 2021, a Sydney woman was getting dinner ready when she grabbed a Four Leaf Salad. "I reached into the bag and got a shock when I felt a very sharp spike from something that's definitely not lettuce," she said at the time.

In late 2022, a much deadlier weed made its way into a number of supermarket salads, leaving more than 200 people seriously unwell. An urgent recall was issued for the packaged baby spinach sold at Woolworths, Coles, Costco and Aldi after thornapple, also known as jimsonweed, was discovered in the crop. Symptoms from eating the poisonous plant include high temperatures, a weak or rapid pulse, incoherence or hallucinations, vomiting, breathing problems and convulsions, according to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

At the time, a Sydney woman detailed her partner's horrific condition after it's believed he ate contaminated spinach, saying she'd never seen anything like it. "No words can explain how sick he was," she wrote on Facebook. "The cramps hit and he was screaming. He couldn't straighten any muscle out."

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