Spain has issued a health alert after detecting a high level of an unauthorised pesticide in a batch of watermelons imported from Morocco. The European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) flagged the consignment, revealing the presence of the pesticide methomyl in quantities exceeding European standards.
The incident, classified as "serious," raises concerns for consumers as methomyl is a potentially hazardous substance used as a pesticide. Its consumption can lead to various symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, trembling, muscle weakness, and blurred vision. Furthermore, combining methomyl with alcohol consumption can negatively impact the central and peripheral nervous system, and even cause kidney failure.
Spanish health authorities are urging consumers to avoid watermelons from Morocco and to return any purchased from relevant stores immediately. They are working closely with supermarkets and shops to remove affected watermelons from shelves to safeguard public health.
As of now, an investigation is underway to determine the origin and distribution of the contaminated watermelons to prevent further spread and minimise risks to public health.
Spain's consumer association, FACUA, has also issued a warning about the dangers of consuming these watermelons. They emphasise that symptoms of methomyl poisoning should prompt immediate medical attention, and individuals should inform healthcare providers of their potential exposure to the pesticide.
The recent alert adds to the challenges facing Spain's watermelon market. Devastated by heavy spring rains, hailstorms, and heatwaves, the country is relying heavily on imports to meet demand during the summer months. However, the health alert calls for caution and vigilance when it comes to consuming watermelons from Morocco, as the risk to public health remains uncertain.
September 20, 2023