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Food Safety News

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Black Widows Found in Supermarket Grapes in Several States

Supermarket chain Aldi pulled its entire stock of grapes from Milwaukee, WI, stores earlier this month after a shopper found a live black widow spider in a container of red grapes purchased from Aldi’s Wauwatosa, WI, store.

Similar occurrences have happened in recent months in Michigan, Missouri and Minnesota.

The Michigan incident happened just days prior to the one in Wisconsin, with a family finding the live spider in a bag of red grapes after taking it home from a Kroger store in Brighton, MI.

Two more black widows were found in containers of red grapes at an Aldi store in St. Louis in early October. In September, a black widow was reportedly found in a shipment of grapes at a Maplewood, MN, school.

Aldi has said it will implement additional inspection procedures at its warehouses and stores in hopes of preventing any further problems.

In the early 2000s, three customers complained of finding black widow spiders in their grapes purchased from Tesco supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The grape grower said it had begun using spiders on their vines as an alternative to pesticides.

The black widow is the most venomous spider in North America, though it only kills around 1 percent of those it bites. Small children and the elderly are most susceptible to the black widow’s venom.

Those who encounter a black widow are advised not to handle it, but instead capture it in a container and set it free outside. While the spiders are not aggressive, they will bite in self-defense.

The spiders are most easily identifiable by their long, shiny black legs and a reddish hourglass mark on their abdomens.

Symptoms of black widow bites may include nausea, muscle aches and difficulty breathing. Anyone who suspects they have been bitten by a black widow is advised to apply ice to the bite and seek medical attention to receive anti-venom.

© Food Safety News
  • Amorette

    I found a black widow a my home computer desk. I squashed it.

  • hu_sna

    I have found spider webs on most grapes that i purchase. It is very clear that the processing facility should pay more attention to their integrated pest management program before releasing the grapes to the consumers. The following article does not conform to vineyards, however, offers an insight on using “biological insecticides” as an effective remediation measure.

    Elek, J. and Wardlaw, T. (2013), Options for managing chrysomelid leaf beetles in Australian eucalypt plantations: reducing the chemical footprint. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 15: 351–365. doi: 10.1111/afe.12021

    • The Grapester

      The grapes are grown and packed in the vineyard, not in a ‘processing facility”. Spiders are great broad spectrum insect predators, better than but not as cute as ladybugs. I’m in the grape business and now I’m curious so I will the local medical community how many spider bites they treat in grape workers.

  • Nicole

    I am pleased to see that you advocate releasing the spiders outside rather than killing them. Black widows do not bite unless threatened. There is no need to kill something when you could let it live through minimal effort.

    • Teresa Geib Bacon

      obviously you have no fear of them I have panic attacks and nightmares, am so glad you do not suffer from same.

      • OBKB

        I feel that way about clowns but you don’t see me killing any. We all have a place in this world. Spiders are important.

      • Audy

        So? I have a serious phobia of spiders too. I still don’t advocate killing them if they can be harmlessly ushered outside. I typically offer them a free ride on a broom to the outdoors, or let someone less afraid usher them out for me. Killing should be a last resort. If fear was a justification for killing, most of the species on this planet would be wiped out, including members of the human race. I can guarantee you the spider is always more afraid of you, than you are of it.

    • Gandy

      Screw that…..only good spider is a dead spider!!!

      • OBKB

        Without spiders, we’d be overrun by other insects. Earth would be a wasteland of defoliated trees and devoured crops, not to mention dead livestock. Spiders are 1,000 times more important to our ecosystem than we are.

  • Jane Peters

    I hope they don’t revert back to using pesticides.

  • Jennifer Goodenough-Kent

    I live in NY and I found a young black widow in a container of black grapes from Sams club in Rochester ny.

  • Laurie

    Set it free outside? Are they kidding?!

    • Teresa Geib Bacon

      I don’t think they were kidding sorry to say guess they would want a Brown Recluse let go as well. Its the damage they can do not whether they feel threatened or not

  • Red

    Oh no! First, horse meat sold as hamburger and now black widows in their grapes? I’m thinking about rethinking shopping trips to Aldi’s.

  • marygee

    This is not the first time this has happened. Many years ago, they were coming here in shipments of bananas.

    • guest

      And that happened in Europe just recently. I think in the UK if I recall correctly

  • CRS

    Good idea using spiders instead of insecticides. Just consider the occasional black widow a kind of pesticide residue but much easier to get rid of.

  • Cinematic Afterglow

    And if it gets flushed without getting squished first, it’s coming back to bite you in the a@#

  • Will

    The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself, And Spiders!

  • tallstack

    We have a terrible time with black widows. I have to toss a bomb down the cellar before even thinking about going down there. I have come in the house with them in my hair. We have to spray for them or they find their way into our home.

  • Jeff Cleveland

    Two sentences side by side in this article:

    “Small children and the elderly are most susceptible to the black widow’s venom”.

    “Those who encounter a black widow are advised not to handle it, but instead capture it in a container and set it free outside”.

    Holy shit, is that stupid. So it can be there to be stumbled upon again, god forbid by a small child or elderly person. Kill the damned thing. They’re not endangered.

  • Med Tech Natural’s

    Typical scare tactics used by big bio companies like Monsanto to use more pesticides on food. More reasons to win FDA approval, I smell more “Big Food Giant Conspiracy”

    What’s next leeches in lettuce, Worms in watermelon,

    what an agenda, scare tactics from monsanto and the fda haha

  • Kate

    I go to the school where the black widow was found…. man was that scary!!

  • Dikaiosyne

    And not too long ago, I found a grape in a package of Black Widows I bought. What’s going on here???!

  • Ana Hernandez

    but instead capture it in a container and set it free outside. While
    the spiders are not aggressive, they will bite in self-defense………………my arse. I’m killing the sob.lol

  • pchack

    I live in NC and have tons of Black Widows on my property and in my Garage. Neither my Wife, my Son, or Myself have ever been bitten. They like to hide under things, they don’t just run around biting people. If you use common sense (like Wearing gloves in the garage and while working outside, shaking things off before bringing them inside and watching your kids) nothing will happen.

  • Maineiac

    I found one in supermarket grapes in Maine a couple of weeks ago – felt something on my hand and there it was. I brushed it into the sink, captured it, and put it in a gallon jar with holes poked in the top. I also put in a tall forked stick and named her Martha. She will soon be going to a “zoo” at the University of Maine. I never kill spiders – they are part of the natural order and should be respected.

  • Audy

    Black widows are native to most places in the U.S., they just vary in their population size from region to region. Also, tarantulas are not ones to be feared. Most are quite docile and while some species can cause spasms, most are no worse than a wasp sting. And this is coming from someone with a fear of spiders.

  • Deanna Szuter

    I’m in North Canton, Ohio, and I just found a live black widow in the bag of grapes I bought from Aldi’s yesterday.

  • SamVed

    I know somebody in Iowa who was sent to surgery after apparently being biten by such a bug last year. There was a necrosis as big as the palm of your hand on his skin.