As first reported by news magazine Der Spiegel this week, the customer in Hannover discovered a 150 gramme package of rocket, also called arugula, contained senecio, which is commonly known as ragwort or Greiskraut in German. The poisonous plant found across the country has leaves that look similar to the distinctive rocket salad.
“Thankfully, no one has been reported ill from eating this salad and only the one package has been found to be contaminated with this poisonous plant,” Plus spokeswoman Christina Stylianou told The Local Wednesday.
The tainted packet reportedly had 2,500 microgrammes of senecio, but University of Bonn botanist Helmut Wiedenfeld told Der Spiegel that one microgramme is the maximum amount a person could consume.
After being notified of the package's contents, Plus pulled all pre-packed rocket from the shelves from all stores in Germany.
The Hannover customer was lucky to be a plant expert, and recognised the different leaves right away, saving his liver from potentially life-threatening damage.
Senecio is a yellow-flowering member of daisy family, Asteraceae, with leaves that produce biocides as a defence against being eaten.
Sylianou said the store's quality department is still investigating how the poisonous plant wound up in the package of salad greens, adding that the chain's relationship with the supplier will be affected by the outcome.
“It's still too early to say whether we will end the relationship with the supplier – we're still investigating how this happened and our decision will be based on that,” she said.
For now, Stylianou assures customers have little to worry about when shopping at their local Plus market.
“This is a fresh product that is brought in daily to this store,” she said. “We're doing all we can to make sure the best quality is on our shelves.”