Woolworths supermarket launches urgent investigation after Woolworths shoppers in NSW and Queensland spot alarming iceberg lettuce detail

Woolworths supermarket launches urgent investigation after Woolworths shoppers in NSW and Queensland spot alarming iceberg lettuce detail

Woolworths customers in two states have reported concerning incidents with recent iceberg lettuce purchases, prompting the supermarket giant to launch an investigation.

Sharing on Facebook, two shoppers – from Queensland and NSW – revealed that they’d discovered brown spots in lettuce that were recently purchased from Woolies.

It’s understood the discolouring is associated with excessive humidity and wet weather conditions in growing regions.

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While the disease – believed to be a bacterial soft rot – looks unsavory, 7NEWS.com.au understands that lettuce heads that have the discolouring are not a health risk and can be consumed.

With iceberg lettuce prices soaring to record highs in recent months, the customers have voiced their frustration at having taken home lettuce that were less than perfect.

Both shoppers reported that the icebergs appeared to be normal and in good condition when they were purchased.

A Queensland shopper shared these images of brown, slimy spots on an iceberg lettuce she recently purchased. Credit: Facebook

However it was only when they peeled back the outer leaves at home, that the brown spots and slime became visible.

“I treated us to a ‘fresh’ iceberg lettuce today from Woolworths for the first time in months,” said one Ipswich customer.

“Took off the outer leaves to put the ‘fresh’ inner leaves on our chicken burgers for dinner. Yeah, that didn’t happen considering I was met with a slimy, rotten mess. Yuck!

“The outer leaves looked normal … certainly not paying $6.50 for something I have to chuck straight to the chooks!”

Another Sydney customer shared a photo of her brown lettuce, saying: “I don’t mind paying what you guys ask but this is ridiculous.”

Experts say brown, slimy spots on a lettuce – which don’t appear on the outer leaves – can be a sign of bacterial soft rot in the lettuce.

Bacterial soft rot – or pectobacterium carotovorum – is typically caused by moist conditions and injury to the plant.

A Sydney shopper shared this image of the iceberg lettuce she purchased from her local Woolies. Credit: Facebook

The disease causes brown-coloured rot on infected areas and may go unnoticed until the leaves are removed.

Some Facebook users pointed out that recent flood conditions may have contributed to any problems with the lettuce.

“Did you stop and think that maybe, just maybe, they have been flood affected?” asked one. “It would be impossible to see what the inside looks like under the outer leaves.”

Woolworths responds

A Woolworths spokesperson has said that the supermarket is investigating the incidents.

“We take food quality seriously and are disappointed to receive similar reports from these customers,” the spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au.

“We’ve passed this onto our suppliers and supply chain teams, who are assessing existing lettuce supply for any discolouring. This will continue to be monitored.

“We haven’t received any other reports on similar products at this time.”

Woolworths customers are encouraged to contact their local store for a replacement and refund if they are disappointed with the quality of one of the supermarket’s products

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