Meth-tainted meal sends NZ pair to hospital

Two people with a taste for casseroles were admitted to hospital with methamphetamine poisoning from a contaminated slow cooker.

meth.slow.cooker.aug.15The pair turned up at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital in October 2013, suffering from diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, loss of appetite, dry and sore mouth, palpitations, dizziness, facial flushing, sweating, dilated pupils and racing heart rates.

The symptoms had developed within 10 minutes of eating a homemade bean casserole,

“The bean casserole had been prepared with canned butter beans, canned mixed beans, beef shin on a bone, pork hock, chicken stock powder, onions, carrots, sea salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf,” a detailed ESR report said.

Both reported milder symptoms, after eating the same bean casserole and a homemade beef casserole on separate days before being admitted to hospital.

The beef casserole was made using shin on the bone beef (coated in paprika and potato flour), sea salt, pepper, red wine, tomato paste, mushrooms, garlic, carrots, onions, beef stock and bay leaf, the ESR report said.

Tests of the casseroles at an ESR Laboratory, revealed traces of methamphetamine in both meals.

Further tests revealed methamphetamine inside the slow cooker and on the lid’s inner and outer surfaces.

“There was real concern that a criminal act of food contamination or deliberate poisoning had occurred.”

Police were informed but no further action was taken.

Green bean rat casserole

Green bean casserole is one of my favorite dishes.  Lots of people serve it as a side dish, but it always ends up being the main course for me.  It’s a typical staple at our family Thanksgiving dinners, so much so that I decided to bring my own GB casserole to Doug’s Canadian Thanksgiving.  I’ve never had any food safety problems (that I know of) with my casseroles, but unfortunately a woman in Utah had quite a nasty surprise when she went to make her GB casserole.  A dead rat head in the green beans ruined a Super Bowl green bean casserole in Texas.  Even more disturbingly, the company that produced the green beans is a repeat offender.  A can of Allen’s Italian Green Beans was found to contain a rat head back in June, along with another report in 2007 from Utah.

But don’t worry about the rat head.  It’s “commercially sterile.”  Though high temperatures for cooking (265 degrees) ensure that the product is free from bacteria, the appearance of rat heads in a vegetable product is unsettling for most consumers.  The fact that there have been three reports of rat heads in this particular brand of green beans should cause a big blip to appear in anyone’s food safety radar.

Unless Allen’s Canned Vegetables wants to start listing “dead rat” on it’s ingredient list, a thorough cleaning and inspection of the packing facility is in order.