A Maine woman claimed that she discovered a three-inch dead lizard in a prepackaged bag of lettuce she bought from a supermarket in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Tailless Blue-Bellied Lizard
Michelle Carr related that she already had a couple of bites before realizing that her food contains a poisonous reptile. She initially thought that the foreign thing in her fork was a slice of avocado.
"I put my fork into my salad after a couple of bites and realized that my fork was not in an avocado slice," she said.
The carcass in the food was missing a tail, and Carr isn't sure if she has actually ingested the animal's tail. Carr, a nurse by profession, said that a biologist friend identified the animal as a blue-bellied lizard generally found in California.
It was the first time that Carr had a store-bought lettuce. She also does not normally shop at Shaw's, the supermarket where she bought the salad. She hopes that others will learn from what happened to her and that consumers should watch what they buy and know where they come from.
Carr is breastfeeding her baby, so she has concerns over the possibility that she and her child might contract salmonella and E.coli, particularly because she has no way of knowing whether or not she has ingested the lizard's tail.
She already contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and Shaw's. A spokesperson from the supermarket said that the company is currently working with its lettuce supplier to find out how this happened and to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
The lettuce was distributed by a California-based company. Carr was informed that because the lettuce was packed outside the state, that state Health Department does not have jurisdiction over the case. Nonetheless, the FDA is conducting an investigation of the incident.
How Animals End Up In People's Food
It is not the first time a dead animal was found in a store-bought food. A dead bat, for instance, has also been found in a salad mix sold by Walmart.
A food safety specialist said that these animals may have been picked up by mechanical harvesters and made it through the quality control steps.
"It's possible that the mechanical harvesting could pick something like this up," Food specialist Ben Chapman, from North Carolina State University, said.