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California Health Officials Warn of Pesticide Laden Cactus

On February 16, 2014, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a warning concerning health risks of an edible cactus. According to officials, certain batches of nopal cactus imported from Mexico may be contaminated with a harmful pesticide known as Monocrotophos – a toxic pesticide which has been barred in the United States for more than 25 years.

Once aware of the potential dangers, authorities swiftly removed as much of the affected product as they could source from both retailers and distribution centers, but other batches may have already been purchased.

CDPH issues warning regarding health risk of cactus from Mexico

No injuries from the cactus have been reported to the CDPH to date, but consumers should be aware of early signs of acute pesticide poisoning, which can include:

  • Headache
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess salivation

Exposure to Monocrotophos has been associated with neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage – two severe injuries that may form the basis for a pesticide poisoning lawsuit in California.

Nopal cactus contaminated with toxic pesticide

Cactus pads such as nopals are valued for their high nutrient and antioxidant content, and have been labeled a super-food for their ability to help lower cholesterol levels and stabilize blood glucose levels. However, a small sample of the nopal collected by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) found some 5.8 parts per million of Monocrotophos. Primarily used in agriculture, Monocrotophos is a kind of organophosphate that is toxic to both humans and birds.

Regulators from the CDPR and the CDPH are collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration to locate the cactus growers and exporters in Mexico, so that future batches can be tested before they make their way to California markets.

The pesticide-contaminated cactus was sold in a number of southern California venues, including:

  • J&L Produce located on Central Avenue in Los Angeles on 2/6/2014
  •  La Superior SuperMercados in Sacramento, Stockton, Woodland and Pittsburg between 2/6/2014 and 2/12/2014
  • La Sucursal Produce located on Central Avenue in Los Angeles on 2/6/2014
  • Mercado del Valle in Concord between 2/6/2014 and 2/12/2014
  • Fresh American Produce located on Mission Road in Los Angeles on 2/7/2014

Those who bought the cactus from wholesale produce companies should look for a sticker that states, “Comercializadora De Chiles, Selectos Nieto S. De R.L. De C.V.”  But nopal sold in bulk bins by various retailers carries no specific labeling.

While the CDPH states that peeling and washing the nopal (in addition to boiling) may help remove some of the pesticide, these measures may prove ineffective in eliminating all health risk. Instead, consumers are asked to return the affected cactus to the place of purchase or dispose of it immediately.

Grounds for filing a California pesticide poisoning lawsuit

Unfortunately, food products contaminated with dangerous bacteria, molds and pesticides can and do make their way to the marketplace where they have the potential to harm thousands of unsuspecting victims. Stringent controls and safety precautions taken by the FDA and other federal agencies are critical in reducing the number of needless injuries and deaths every year. Toxic pesticides, in addition to permanent nerve damage, have been tied to a number of adverse side effects, including Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular injuries.

If you or a loved one was exposed to contaminated cactus and would like the advice of a veteran California pesticide contamination lawyer, please contact the Ellis Law firm for a no-obligation case review. Representing injured Los Angeles residents for more than 20 years, our accomplished team of attorneys will analyze the details of your claim to determine whether you have the right to compensation.  We invite you to contact us online, or call toll free at 1.800.INJURED.