The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers that an edible cactus imported from Mexico is contaminated with a dangerous pesticide and should not be eaten.
The pesticide, monocrotophos, is organophosphate-based and has been barred from use in the United States since 1989. It has been found on cactus samples at levels as high as 5.8 parts per million.
The cactus products were sold in cases that were likely labeled with a sticker stating, "Comercializadora De Chiles, Selectos Nieto S. De R.L. De C.V." Individual cactus products did not have branding or labeling.
CDPH says that consumers should not try to wash the pesticide off of cactus products and instead should return them to the seller or dispose of them.
According the department's website, "No illnesses have been reported to date, but symptoms of acute poisoning may include sweating, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Consumption of Monocrotophos can lead to neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage."
The department says they are working with the FDA to identify responsible parties so that future shipments can be more closely examined.
"CDPH recommends consumers experiencing any ill effects after consuming cactus products consult their health care provider. Consumers that observe the product being offered for sale are encouraged to report the activity to the CDPH toll free complaint line at (800) 495-3232."