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More poisoned courgette seeds?!

There was a recent report in the national news about issues with poisonous courgette seeds by the brand Mr Fothergill's. 

Now there is another report of issues with courgettes from another brand Unwins. The report can be found in the media with titles like 'Mum rushed to A&E after eating 'poisonous' courgettes she grew in lockdown'.

The lady affected is photographed with a packet of Unwins 'Courgette Tristar F1' seeds.

I have just begun to harvest courgettes from 6 plants grown from a different packet of Unwins 'Courgette Zucchini F1' seeds. I haven't eaten any mature plants, but I did eat an unpollinated one from before I had a male flowers to pollinate it, it seemed OK to me. However I'm still weary and want to check if they're safe.

I'm unable to find any additional info on the issue other than what's in the news. I can't find any details of product recalls and the Unwins customer service number is now closed at 3pm and the Westland customer service number is closed although they say they're open until 5pm and it's now 4.45pm

Maybe someone else has some additional info.

Here are photos of my seeds



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Posts

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 25,365
    You can do a lick test.  When you top or tail or otherwise slice your courgette just lick the cut surface.  If it's bitter, don't eat it.

    Bitterness in cucumbers and squash plants has been a recurring problem for centuries but plant breeding has largely eliminated he problem.   The current problem is thought to have come from a rogue cross pollination between ornamental gourds (not edible) and edible squashes and pumpkins used for harvesting for seed for sale.

    No need to panic or throw out the baby with the bath water.  Common sense, equanimity and a lick is all you need.  Or you could call the seed company or check their website for the batch code.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • EricsGardenEricsGarden Posts: 132
    Obelixx said:
    You can do a lick test.  When you top or tail or otherwise slice your courgette just lick the cut surface.  If it's bitter, don't eat it.

    Bitterness in cucumbers and squash plants has been a recurring problem for centuries but plant breeding has largely eliminated he problem.   The current problem is thought to have come from a rogue cross pollination between ornamental gourds (not edible) and edible squashes and pumpkins used for harvesting for seed for sale.

    No need to panic or throw out the baby with the bath water.  Common sense, equanimity and a lick is all you need.  Or you could call the seed company or check their website for the batch code.
    Yes I saw that people are recommending a taste test. Unfortunately I have always had a slightly different, more sensitive sense of taste than most people. I believe I am what's known as a supertaster - a person with more taste buds than is normal. So something that may taste very bitter (or spicy or sweet) to me may taste perfectly fine to most people, and no one else in the house likes courgettes anyway there's no point asking them to taste them HAHA
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 25,365
    DIY?
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • HelixHelix 704m altitude...Posts: 631
    Isn’t that good then? As you will be sensitive to bitterness from a tiny lick, whereas others would have to chomp through much more to be sure?  Normally courgettes just aren’t bitter.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 69,042
    @Helix  ... bitter taste is only a symptom of the problem  ...  these particular courgettes contain a toxin that has landed some people in hospital, really quite ill. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • EricsGardenEricsGarden Posts: 132
    edited July 2020
    Helix said:
    Isn’t that good then? As you will be sensitive to bitterness from a tiny lick, whereas others would have to chomp through much more to be sure?  Normally courgettes just aren’t bitter.
    No it doesn't work like that unfortunately. Normally courgettes just aren’t bitter to the average person maybe, but they may taste bitter to me just like foods that people say aren't spicy can taste really spicy to me. Also as I'm not experienced tasting raw courgettes and I have nothing to compare it to. On top of that I'm not even sure if could reliably identify the taste of bitterness anyway, it's just never come up before.

    I'll just wait for more info on the issue I think. Thanks though.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,151
    Sorry to slightly hijack this thread but does anybody know if there has been an issue with commercially grown courgettes (ie the ones you’d buy in the supermarket) or is the problem confined to seeds sold for home growers?

    Just wondering if we should be licking all our bought in courgettes. I do know that people can be quite seriously ill after eating affected produce.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,329
    edited July 2020
    Eric’sGarden,

    As someone who has been unfortunate enough to grow and cook one of these devilish things, I can assure you that the word “bitter” hardly begins to describe the taste.

    It’s not a matter of being sensitive to flavours. 

    If you have ever tasted a codeine tablet, which is generally described by most people as bitter, you can put that down as a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of bitterness. These courgettes are a ten. Maybe an 11.

    They defy you to keep so much as an atom of them in your mouth for more than a millisecond.

    I spat the small mouthful out immediately, yet the bitterness lingered in my mouth and altered the taste of other foods, for five days.

    Topbird, I have never come across this in bought courgettes. But a quick lick is maybe a good idea.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • The toxic seed appears to come from a grower who has supplied seed to Mr Fothergills, Unwins, Kings Seeds and Wilko.  In Suffolk, the investigation into Mr Fothergills’ sales is being handled by their trading standards officer Nigel Howlett, reachable at tradingstand[email protected]
    The seed companies will not have known about the deficiencies in their seeds. However it is important that in the future  they only buy seed from a supplier who has  not allowed his courgette plants to be cross fertilised by another species .. eg a squash.
    in my case, I was pretty badly ill for 3 days and lost 12 pounds in weight as a consequence. Just recovering now.

    Jeremy B
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,115
    I have come across the taste before and you really will know about it. Taste a bit of cucumber skin, that is mildly bitter to me. a bad courgette will be 20 times worse you will know instantly I made a lasagna once with a pumpkin that was bitter, even at only 1/10th of the ingredients the entire thing was so vile it went in the bin.
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