Ohio man finds black widow spider in grocery store broccoli

An Ohio man didn’t just come home with produce from his grocery store, he also brought along a black widow spider.

Jacob Vaughn tells WTOL he purchased fresh broccoli at a Kroger supermarket in Maumee. As he was washing off the broccoli, a black widow spider came crawling out. He said he grabbed a pair of tongs and placed the piece of broccoli, along with the spider, inside a plastic sandwich bag.

Vaughn remained in disbelief as he took a video of the spider, which his mother uploaded onto Facebook. That’s where Cheryl Garcia, with Another Chance Sanctuary, a rescue and rehabilitation facility in Fremont, saw the video. She took the spider, naming it “Broccoli,” and said it could soon be adopted into a home.

“She wasn’t happy, so she came out and flared at him a little, and he bagged her,” Garcia said. “She’s unique. She’s not for everybody but she deserves a home.”

According to a Kroger spokesperson, an associate at the store was notified of the concern on June 11. The associate apologized to Vaughn and offered to refund or to replace to the product. Kroger issued the following statement:

Kroger works with growers to ensure we are always providing safe, quality food to our customers. We encourage customers to inspect fresh produce prior to consuming. If customers are not satisfied with their purchase they are welcome to return it for a refund or exchange.

By Friday, “Broccoli” was adopted, according to the sanctuary’s Facebook page.

Fatalities from a black widow spider’s bite are fairly rare, according to the National Geographic. Its venom has been reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s, but in humans, bites can produce nausea, muscle aches or paralysis of the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Bites could be fatal to small children or the elderly.

According to WTOL, entomologist Lina Rayor, spoke to Scientific American, saying there is a reasonable chance of finding spiders in grocery store fruit, especially in bananas from Central or South American. Black widows could be found in grapes, however, broccoli was not address in her interview.
She suggested paying attention to your produce, and rinsing of your fruit. Most black widows are about the size of a grape, and don’t travel well on the ground.