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Over 200 fall ill in Australia’s food safety incident

Canberra, Dec 19 (IANS) Over 200 people have fallen ill with many hospitalised in a widespread food safety incident across multiple Australian states.

The people are believed to have suffered symptoms after eating baby spinach, and four major supermarket chains across Australia have taken down the contaminated products from the shelves, Xinhua news agency quoted local media reports as saying on Monday.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the country’s food safety authorities, has made a national recall of the contaminated baby spinach products.

“The products have had potential contamination with unsafe plant material which may cause illness. Consumers have been advised not to eat the spinach and dispose of it immediately,” said an FSANZ statement.

It also urged anyone who believes they have consumed the product and are concerned to seek medical advice.

The initial possible symptoms listed by FSANZ include delirium or confusion, hallucinations, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, flushed face, blurred vision, and dry mouth and skin.

FSANZ CEO Sandra Cuthbert said the FSANZ is working closely with the relevant state food authorities regarding the recall and active investigations continue.

Authorities in several states have issued health alerts after the national recall.

New South Wales, the most populous state, has seen 164 people reporting symptoms and at least 42 of whom having sought medical attention as of Monday, according to the state health department.

NSW Health said anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms should seek immediate medical attention by visiting the nearest emergency department.

Health department of the state of Victoria also advised health professionals to be aware of patients presenting with relevant clinical presentation, and notify the department.

At least 11 Victoria residents have gone to emergency departments after consuming the baby spinach, said report from the Guardian.

In Queensland, the Poisons Information Centre has received 26 calls made by local residents experiencing a range of symptoms.

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