Woolworths withdraws broccoli batch after reports of redback spiders
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Woolworths withdraws broccoli batch after reports of redback spiders

Woolworths has withdrawn a batch of broccoli from three suppliers following reports of redback spiders found in the produce.

The broccoli withdrawal has affected stores in Queensland and a small proportion of stores in New South Wales.

Woolworths customer Maurice Wilson said this spider lunged at his finger while he was chopping the broccoli.

Woolworths customer Maurice Wilson said this spider lunged at his finger while he was chopping the broccoli.Credit:Maurice Wilson

It was reported on Sunday that a customer found one of the venomous spiders in her broccoli and the supermarket had been in contact with her regarding the issue.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company took food safety and quality concerns seriously.

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This redback was found in broccoli purchased from the Woolworths at Runaway Bay.

This redback was found in broccoli purchased from the Woolworths at Runaway Bay.Credit:Facebook/Dee Nott

"Supply of this batch of product has been temporarily suspended while we work closely with three of our Queensland suppliers to ensure we are receiving the best-quality produce," the spokesperson said.

"We are currently in contact with customers who have brought concerns to our attention."

One of those customers in contact with Woolworths is Maurice Wilson, who shops at the company's Nambour store.

Mr Wilson contacted Fairfax Media following the report of a redback spider being found in broccoli bought at Woolworths Runaway Bay store.

He said that after he brought the broccoli home from the store he washed it and started cutting it when he noticed something odd.

"I noticed a little black, but I continued to cut through it and I noticed this thing lunged out at my finger and I thought, 'What the hell?'

"I dropped it and it came out and it was a redback spider, as you can see on the photo, clearly on the broccoli."

He said he then contacted the store, which gave him a $20 gift card for the inconvenience. He was then contacted by the head office, which gave him a $30 gift card.

The Woolworths spokesperson said in regard to that particular case: "We have made contact with the customer and are currently investigating the issue."

One of Woolworths' broccoli suppliers said a spider being found in the produce was an unfortunate byproduct of an integrated pest management system.

Growers have moved away from using heavy pesticides to build up beneficial bug populations that eat pests.

Spiders are one of the beneficial bugs that help keep the use of pesticides down, the supplier said, adding that customers "can be rest assured that not a lot of pesticides went into that product".

The Woolworths spokesperson also said there would be no halt to the supply of broccoli as they have many suppliers.

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Drew Creighton is a reporter and audience engagement editor at the Brisbane Times

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