Confused shoppers dine on toxic daffodils

Updated: 2015-02-12 07:54

By Zhang Chunyan in London(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Confused shoppers dine on toxic daffodils

Daffodils (top) have beenmistaken for garlic scape (bottom), a Chinese vegetable. But daffodils contain toxins. The National Poisons Information Service of the UK answered 27 calls about daffodil poisoning last year. Top: Jiang Shan / For China Daily; bottom: Provided to China Daily

Please don't eat the daffodils!

Some British supermarkets have had to move the popular flower away from the fruit and vegetable aisles as spring approaches, as their bulbs and stems have been mistaken for a Chinese vegetable called garlic scape.

Daffodils, however, contain toxins that can cause severe nausea.

In the past six years, 63 people have become ill, and the National Poisons Information Service answered 27 calls about daffodil poisoning last year.

"Traditionally, the daffodils are displayed near the fruit and vegetable aisles in most British supermarkets and grocery stores. If you are not careful and don't read the name on the package, you might think it is Chinese garlic scape," said Wang Ying, who has worked in London for five years.

"Last year, one of my Chinese friends who came to Britain for the first time made that mistake. She didn't notice the difference, didn't even see the flower name and cooked it with meat for food. She was happy at first that she could eat this Chinese vegetable in Britain, but she became sick and had to go to the hospital," Wang said.

In an unprecedented move, Public Health England issued a letter to all major supermarkets asking them to ensure that daffodils be kept separate from fruit and vegetables.

Some stores even put a note on the flower in Chinese, reading, "Please do not eat".

Paul Cosford, director for health protection of the organization, said, "Daffodils are dangerous if eaten and poisoning can occur as a result."

"We are asking you, along with all other major super-markets, to ensure that daffodils, both the bulbs from which they sprout and the cut variety too, are displayed well away from the produce or fruit and vegetable area.

"Such a move will, we hope, produce a separation in shoppers' minds that will help to stop them thinking daffodils are edible," the letter said.

In 2012, Bristol's Chinese community was urged not to eat daffodils after 10 people had to receive hospital treatment. It was thought they may have mistaken the stems for the Chinese vegetable.