Urgent product recall - more bottles found to contain toxic seeds

19 January 2007

After a recall notice was issued last week the Ministry of Health and MAF Biosecurity New Zealand have been alerted to the presence of more ‘Message in a Bottle’ novelty products in New Zealand.

The decorative bottles are being recalled because they contain highly toxic seeds from the plant Abrus precatorius. The bottle is designed to be opened so that the recipient can read the message inside. Each bottle contains about 12 seeds.

Information available to MAF originally indicated that only 72 bottles were imported into New Zealand. Information received from a member of the public following the product recall led to the discovery of a further 144 bottles. Of these bottles 91 have been located with 53 outstanding. Bottles were sold through “Dollars and Sense” stores at Waitakere Plaza in Henderson, K Mart Plaza in Hastings, Trafalgar Square in Wanganui and Broadway Avenue in Palmerston North.

Five items from the original batch of 72 are still outstanding. They were sold through Abstractz Interiors in Onehunga (1 item outstanding), Lagoona in Mt Maunganui (2 items outstanding) and the Foxton Bookshop (2 items outstanding).

If you have one of these products (see picture attached) or know of their whereabouts, please call 0800 80 99 66 immediately.

Although the seeds are intended to be decorative, their small size and bright colouring may appeal to children, who could be tempted to eat them.

Dr John Fountain from the National Poisons Centre said if swallowed whole the seed would likely pass through the digestive system without any effects. However, chewing the seed could result in very serious health effects and possibly lead to death of a child.

No reports of anyone having eaten the seeds has been made to the National Poisons Centre or BNZ.

Should people have concerns regarding a suspected poisoning they should contact the National Poisons Centre on 0800 764766.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Annie Coughlan, Advisor, Environmental Health
Ministry of Health
Tel: 04 495 4376 or 027-4343 222
Email: annie_coughlan@moh.govt.nz

Or

Annie Wright , Senior Communications Adviser
Biosecurity New Zealand:
Tel: 894 0654 or 029 894 0654

BACKGROUND

For further information on the seed: www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Abruspr.htm

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33