SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) – Health officials Wednesday warned people not to eat cactus imported from Mexico that were tainted with unapproved pesticides.

The cactus pads – known as nopales – were imported from Mexico and sold at several retail and wholesale locations around California, including a Stater Bros. distribution center in San Bernardino during the last week of January, according to
the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

Inspectors found various pesticides – including monocrotophos and methidathion, which have been banned for food use in the U.S. for several years – on the cactus pads.

While the affected products were removed and quarantined or destroyed, DPR officials say it is possible that some of the cactus pads may have been sold to other stores in California, Nevada and Oregon.

cacti Consumers Warned Not To Eat Cactus Imported From Mexico

Authorities say tainted cactus pads were sold at locations around the state. (Photo courtesy CDPH)

The tainted produce was packaged with the brand names “Mexpogroup Fresh Produce,” “Aramburo,” or “Los Tres Huastecos”.

Other locations where the cacti were sold include:

• Rancho San Miguel Markets, Madera
• La Monarca Market, Lower Lake
• FreshPoint Central California, Turlock
• Arteaga’s Food Center, Sacramento
• Stater Bros. Distribution Center, San Bernardino
• S&L Wholesale Produce, San Francisco

“Anyone feeling ill after consuming cactus products should consult their health care provider,” said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “The symptoms of acute poisoning may include sweating, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Consumption of monocrotophos can lead to neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage.”

Officials say washing or peeling the cactus is not effective and people should not try to salvage any potentially contaminated produce.

Anyone with information on where the product is being offered for sale are encouraged to report the activity to the CDPH toll-free complaint line at (800) 495-3232.

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