Woolworths has been forced to withdraw broccoli from its shelves after two customers reported finding redback spiders crawling in the fresh produce.
On Saturday a customer from the Gold Coast complained on the Woolworths Facebook page about finding a spider in her broccoli.
Then on Tuesday, a customer from Nambour, one hour north of Brisbane, reported a similar incident.
“I just had a nasty surprise,” Gold Coast resident Dee Nott wrote on Facebook.
“A live redback spider in my broccoli purchased today at your Runaway Bay store.
“I am lucky it did not bite me as I washed it.”
Woolworths responded: “We’re very concerned about this, Dee, and take incidents like this very seriously.”
Ms Nott placed the broccoli and the spider in the freezer and returned it to the store the next day.
Following the first incident, Maurice Wilson told Fairfax Media he also found a redback spider in broccoli he bought from the Nambour Woolworths store.
“I noticed a little black, but I continued to cut through it and I noticed this thing lunged out at my finger and I thought, ‘What the hell?'”
Mr Wilson was reportedly given a $20 gift card from the store and a further $30 gift card from head office for the inconvenience caused.
Woolworths has temporarily suspended supply of the broccoli batch to some stores in Queensland and New South Wales in response.
The supermarket chain is also reportedly working “closely” with three Queensland suppliers to rectify the problem, according to Fairfax.
The New Daily has contacted Woolworths for more information on the incidents.
In February, The New Daily published a list of some of the unpleasant things customers reported finding in their groceries.
One of the incidents was a New South Wales woman who reported finding a live spider inside a packet of Woolworths pre-packaged salad mix.
Coles and Woolworths were forced into a total pre-packaged salad recall in February when salmonella was found to have contaminated the product.
Spiders good for pest control
One of the suppliers told Fairfax Media the spider find was a result of an “integrated pest management system”.
Many growers have reportedly moved away from using heavy pesticides in order to build up beneficial bug populations that eat pests.
Spiders are one of the helpful bugs that flourish when less pesticides are used.
The CSIRO listed “biological control including predators, beneficial pests and pathogens” as one of the ways integrated pest management systems can achieve the desired effect.
Others include the use of traps, tolerance of non-economic damage to crops and as a very last resort, chemical control.
“Crop yields can be significantly reduced by pests. Protecting crops more effectively and with innovative methods will not only help improve crop yields, but can also improve environmental health by reducing the application of pesticides,” CSIRO wrote on its website.