Venomous Spiders Cause Mexican Grape Recall

Produce stores in New Zealand are recalling imported Mexican grapes after ten venomous spiders, including black widows, were found in bags of the fruit.
July 10, 2015

Supermarkets in New Zealand are rushing to rid their shelves of Mexican grapes after ten venomous spiders were discovered hiding amongst the fruit at several locations throughout the country.

Of the ten spiders found, five are believed to be blank widows, two yellow sac spiders and one a brown widow. According to investigations carried out by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) the remaining two spiders have yet to be identified.

Creepy Crawly Find

New Zealand supermarkets were first informed of the poisonous spiders being found in both the red and black Mexican Desert Pride grapes late last week; and working with the MPI, fresh produce retailers have since begun recalling all varieties of imported Mexican grapes.

Brendan Gould, manager of surveillance for MPI, has said it is highly likely that consumers could have already bought grapes from the affected shipment.

"We recommend that if people have recently bought imported table grapes, they should carefully check them for the presence of any insects. In the unlikely event that they find a spider, they should immediately bag the grapes (and spider/s) and seal them, and contact our Hotline 0800 80 99 66," said Mr Gould.

Potential Food Safety Risk

The creepy crawly find poses a serious food safety risk to humans given the severity of the spiders’ bites. Both the black and brown widow spiders, like the Australian redback, are part of the Latrodectus family, which is notorious for its particularly dangerous neurotoxin laced bite.

If bitten a victim can continue to experience symptoms for several weeks - these can include fever, abdominal cramps, muscle pain, hyperhidrosis and tachycardia.

However, some good news is that according to MPI, the foreign spiders do not pose a risk to New Zealand’s local horticultural environment.

People who might have already bought grapes that might have come from the affected shipment are advised to be on the lookout.