Customer spots poison stems in salad

BERLIN Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:24am EDT

Salads are prepared in Mostoles, south of Madrid, March 20, 2009. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Salads are prepared in Mostoles, south of Madrid, March 20, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Susana Vera

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A customer shopping at a discount supermarket store in Germany found stems of a poisonous weed in mixed salad bags, triggering concerns about potential health risks, the store said.

Traces of senecio vulgaris or common groundsel, that can cause extensive liver damage if ingested in large amounts, were discovered by a customer with a specialized knowledge of plants in a Plus store in the northern city of Hanover.

"It's hard for laymen to tell the difference from rocket," said a Plus spokeswoman on Tuesday.

"We immediately took all affected bags off the shelves."

Samples were sent to the University of Bonn for testing, which detected more than 2,500 micrograms of poison -- 2,500 times more than the recommended daily allowance -- in 150 grams of salad, German media reported.

Minister for consumer protectionism in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Margit Conrad, warned shoppers to be vigilant.

"Not everything that looks like fruit and vegetable is edible," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

"No one should eat plants or parts of plants that have an unusual taste."

(Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Paul Casciato)

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