A shopper discovered one of the most dangerous spiders in the world when she opened a pack of red seedless grapes from her local grocery store.
This is the second time in five days that a redback spider was reported in a product from the Australian supermarket chain Woolworths.
“As I went to wash a handful for my 1 year old daughter, after having munched on them the day before, I found a cobweb and the live spider,” Kristy Backman, from Perth, Western Australia, said in a Facebook post on the Woolworths community page.
A Woolworths customer in Brisbane, Queensland, over 2,000 miles away from where Backman lives, also found a redback spider a few days earlier.
“WARNING I just bought a punnet of black seedless grapes from the Redbank Plains (Mountainview) store and found a live redback spider in them,” Brisbane resident, Lani Neil, said in a Facebook post on the same community page on February 25.
Woolworths replied: “We take reports like this seriously and we’ll look into this with our team.” It is unclear whether Neil has received a resolution.
There has not yet been a response to Backman’s post though she did say the store offered her a replacement bag. “The produce manager said he was raising it with Quality department,” she added.
Hi there. I too have recently come across a live redback in a bag of Woolworths red seedless grapes that were purchased Sat 25th Feb. As I went to wash a handful for my 1 year old daughter after…
The redback spider is a close relative of the black widow and can be found across Australia, particularly in urban areas. Because of this, they are often found in sheds, garages, and in outside toilets, according to the University of Melbourne.
The females are significantly larger than the males and can be distinguished by a large red, orange or brownish stripe on their abdomen. As spiders go, though, even the females are relatively small, at less than half an inch on average, according to the Australian Museum.
Like the black widow, their venom is a potent neurotoxin which shuts down the nervous system if left untreated. However, since the introduction of antivenom in 1956, no deaths have directly resulted from this species, despite the roughly 2,000 recorded bites every year, according to the Australian Museum.
Bites usually occur when people accidentally disrupt their webs, which could easily have happened to Backman while she was rummaging through her grapes.
Cases like this are not totally unheard of. In February 2022, a Woolworths customer in Sydney also found a redback in a box of grapes. One month later, a woman in New South Wales found a redback and its egg sac lurking in a box of grapes from a Coles supermarket, another local chain.
“The truth is this happens more than people think,” said one user in response to Neil’s post. “I am a former produce manager at Woolworths and we would, on occasion, find spiders in the grapes. I once opened a box of bananas to find a live snake amongst them! It’s nature and unfortunately it will happen.”