Black Widows in Grapes Scare Supermarket Shoppers

Image: Black Widows in Grapes Scare Supermarket Shoppers

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 09:37 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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A Pennsylvania woman has reported that a venomous black widow spider popped out of a bunch of grapes she purchased at a local supermarket. Similar reports have come from Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, and Minnesota.

Yvonne Whalen of Dillsburg told WHTM-TV that she was washing the grapes she bought a Giant Food store in her sink the week before when she found the spider.

"The next thing I know, there was this leg coming up over a grape and needless to say I dropped by grapes in the sink," Whalen told the television station.

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Food Safety News reported last week that similar incidents have occurred at two Aldi's locations in Wisconsin and other supermarket locations in Michigan, Missouri and Minnesota.

Not knowing what kind it was, Whalen placed the spider in a plastic container and took it to a local insect expert.

"There's no mistaking a black widow, even in a juvenile form like this," Ryan Bridge told WHTM-TV. "There is just enough there that you can really tell it's a black widow."

The venom of a black widow can be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake, according to LiveScience.com. Black widows are found around the world, particularly in the United States, Southern Europe and Asia, Australia, Africa, and much of South America.

Black widows are often found in outdoors around fences, rock piles, sheds and outdoor furniture, and in cold weather may venture into buildings.

"A customer alerted us today that she found a black widow spider in grapes she had purchased from our Dillsburg store," Giant Food told WHTM-TV in a statement. "We regret that this incident has occurred and are taking immediate steps to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future. We will continue to diligently inspect product both at our perishable distribution center and at the store while thoroughly investigating this serious matter with our suppliers."

According to LiveScience.com, black widows usually do not bite humans unless they are disturbed. The spider's venom can be fatal to small children, the elderly, or the ill.

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Bite symptoms, which often feel like a pin prick, include minor swelling, redness, and a target-shaped lesion. A dull muscle pain will spread throughout the body, which will include pain in the chest or abdomen, said the website.

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