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Health Officials Issue Warning About Eating Cactus Tainted By Pesticide

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — State health officials Sunday warned the public about eating cactus that was tainted by a dangerous pesticide in Mexico.

A batch of tested cactus pads, or “nopales,” were found to contain Moncrotophos, a pesticide that was banned in the United States in 1989, according to the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento.

Scientists issued a statement today warning that the cactus had been measured at 5.8 parts per million of the pesticide.

The state office said it has removed the cactus pads from stores, but some had been sold in bulk form at three Los Angeles produce stands: J&L Produce on Mission Road and La Sucursai Produce on Central Avenue on Feb. 6; and at Fresh American produce on Mission Road on Feb. 7.

Some of the cactus was also sold in the Bay Area, Stockton and Sacramento last week.

Boxes of the tainted cactus were labeled “Comercialazadora de Chiles, Selectos Nieto S. de R.L de C.V,” but the cactus pads were sold to consumers without labels.

Washing, peeling or boiling the cactus could remove some of the poison but the state urged people to throw it out. No cases of poisoning or illness have been reported.

The state office said it was working with the FDA to identify the growers in Mexico and importers in the U.S.

Cooked nopales, or spiny cactus pads, are a traditional vegetable dish in some areas of Mexico. They are usually boiled or pickled, and served peeled and without the needles.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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