Oh, Good: Four More Reports Of Iron Cross Blister Beetles In Salads

tjssaladLast week, we shared the mildly disturbing news that four different people in three states had found a particular species of potentially toxic beetle in their organic salads. Those were just the people who found their way to a bug-identification community on Reddit: how many more beetles were out there lurking in America’s salads? The answer, we learned this weekend, is at least four.

Let’s review why you don’t want to sit around chewing on Iron Cross blister beetles. When stressed, they give off a substance called cantharidin, which is toxic. A healthy adult would probably have consume a lot of the stuff to become seriously ill, but it can still cause gastrointestinal problems if eaten, and skin blistering (hence the name) if touched.


Reader B. reports that her daughter found this beetle in a salad from Trader Joe’s, which was purchased in southern California. That is, at least, the native region of this particular beetle, but its native habitat is not salad bowls.


D. says that she found this beetle in a salad that she purchased at a Ralph’s in southern California: again, somewhere that it could plausibly live, but it’s not supposed to be in pre-prepared salad bowls.


W. found our article while looking for information on the beetle that skittered out of his salad on Sunday. He lives in Massachusetts, which is very far from the beetle’s native range.


One reader in New York state didn’t capture a photo of her lettuce or the beetle, but was very glad to report that she prevented her cat from eating an insect found in a bag of organic lettuce. She says that she had eaten half of the bag before finding the insect inside, which was still alive. “I was wondering why I felt so sick at work the other day,” she wrote to Consumerist. “I took out some of the lettuce and had a salad the night before an early shift and ended up calling in sick due to nausea and dizziness.”

As we said when we shared the first four beetle reports: whenever you find something in your food that doesn’t belong there, report it to the Food and Drug Administration. You will have to talk to another human being on the phone: find your state’s consumer complaint coordinator and call it in. You should also report it to the retailer where you bought the item, and the company that packaged the product if it wasn’t the retailer.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.