State Health Dept. Warns About Contaminated Mexican Cactus

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State health officials have issued a warning that cactus pads – or nopales, a favored ingredient in Mexican cuisine – for sale in California may have been sprayed with dangerous pesticides.


A file photo of nopales, cactus pads used in Mexico cooking.

The contaminated cactus was treated with unapproved pesticides in Mexico and then sold at several stores throughout California, including three in Los Angeles, the state health department announced Sunday.

Routine testing found evidence of Monocrotophos, a pesticide that has been banned in the U.S. since 1989, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Consumption of Monocrotophos can lead to neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage, the department stated.

Symptoms of poisoning include sweating, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. No illnesses had been reported as of Sunday.

State regulators said they destroyed as much of the contaminated product as could be located at stores and distribution facilities.

The contaminated cactus was sold at the following locations and dates in Southern California:

  • La Sucursal Produce on Central Avenue in Los Angeles on Feb. 6;
  • Fresh American Produce on Mission Road in Los Angeles on Feb. 7; and
  • J&L Produce on Central Avenue in Los Angeles on Feb. 6.

In Central and Northern California, locations in Concord, Sacramento, Stockton, Woodland and Pittsburg also sold the cactus. More information is at the CDPH website.

Consumers who purchased the cactus should return it or throw it away.

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