Finding live creatures in your fruit and veg can be quite a shock. Most recently, an Australian woman claimed to have found a live snake in her lettuce bag from Aldi. Just Australian things, right?
Incidents like this are more common than you’d think. In 2011, a Townsville woman found a live rat chewing into her loaf of bread and in 2017 a woman in Melbourne reported finding a small frog living in her lettuce. Add on to that the numerous reports of people finding spiders, snails and other bugs in their fruit and vegetable packs and you can see this isn’t just a one-off incident.
There was actually a U.S. study conducted in 2019 about the odds of finding an animal, alive or dead, in your groceries which averaged about 2.6 animals a year. So, very low, but for this reason, it’s worth knowing what to do if you find an unexpected visitor in your groceries.
Look, it would be hard not to freak out at the sight of something living in your groceries, particularly if it’s potentially deadly – like a snake. But the important thing is to remain calm.
If the animal is alive and contained it’s best to leave it there while you call your local wildlife experts for further instructions. If the animal has escaped into your house WIRES suggests trying to isolate it in a room while you call the WIRES rescue line on 1300 094 737. This obviously varies depending on the animal.
If it’s something that you feel comfortable capturing, like a spider, bug or rat, you can do that and either release it safely somewhere outside or call WIRES to find out where it can be taken or what to do with it. Be careful when handling potentially venomous creatures; if you’re concerned consult an expert.
If you’ve found a dead creature in your groceries, really the best thing to do is dispose of it or bury it in your yard.
Wash your produce
You may not feel like eating your fruit and veg if you’ve just found an animal in it, so in that case, feel free to dispose of it responsibly or compost it if you can.
Our snake-finding friends decided to just wash their lettuce and use it in a wrap later. So I guess take this as a reminder to always wash your fruit and veg before eating it. Alongside countless pesticides, you have no idea what could’ve been crawling over it.
If you’ve found a decomposing animal in there you really should dispose of your food item to avoid any bacteria or disease.
Check your fruit and veg before buying
I’m not saying you have to turn over every single piece of fruit on the stand, but if a quick browse of your salad bag or fruit item shows an opening, unusual hole or, you know, something moving in there – maybe don’t buy it. Instead, alert a staff member and they can handle it.
Don’t blame the staff
On that note, if you come home to find something living in your lettuce – don’t blame the staff.
As someone who has worked in a fresh food supermarket, I can guarantee you that if we saw your bag of lettuce had something living in it we absolutely would not sell it to you. Most of these things arrive pre-packaged so staff have no idea what’s gone into them.
Instead, you can politely alert a staff member if you see something or email a customer service representative. They’ll likely lodge an investigation and probably offer you a refund.
Or, if it’s Coles, they might congratulate you on your new offspring!
Remember, the chances of finding an animal in your produce is low, but it pays to be prepared.