Cheery displays of yellow daffodils are traditionally parked in the fruit and veg aisles, but worried health chiefs say muddled shoppers who don’t know their onions are accidentally tucking into the highly poisonous bulbs after mistaking them for the flavoursome vegetables.
You don’t be-leaf it? Then think again – the befuddled foodies are also confusing the stems and leaves for Chinese vegetables and popping them into stir-fries.
Toxic daffodils can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and now the authorities are determined to nip a growing problem firmly in the bud. Professor Paul Cosford, director of health protection at Public Health England, warned that the consumption of daffodils was “an emerging risk”, with the number of cases rising each spring.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, daffodils are dangerous if eaten,” he wrote to supermarket bosses. “We are asking you, along with all other major supermarkets, to ensure that daffodils, both the bulbs from which they sprout and the cut variety too, are displayed well away from the produce of the fruit and vegetable area.”
In the last six years Public Health England has received 63 inquiries from doctors and nurses asking for advice about treating people for poisoning linked to daffodils and narcissi. Last year alone there were 27.
Prof Cosford said concern had been heightened by an incident in Bristol in 2012, when shoppers “for whom English was not their first language” cooked the plants believing them to be Chinese chives, and required hospital treatment.