Home Ice bergs Woolworths supermarket launches urgent investigation after Woolworths shoppers in NSW and Queensland spot alarming details of iceberg lettuce

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


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

Sharing on Facebook, two shoppers – from Queensland and New South Wales – revealed they had discovered brown spots on lettuce recently bought from Woolies.

It is understood that discoloration is associated with excessive humidity and humid weather conditions in growing regions.

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While the disease – believed to be bacterial soft rot – seems unsavory, 7NEWS.com.au understands that heads of lettuce that have the discoloration do not pose a health risk and can be eaten.

As iceberg lettuce prices hit record highs in recent months, customers expressed frustration at bringing home lettuces that were less than perfect.

Both buyers reported that the icebergs appeared normal and in good condition when purchased.

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

However, it wasn’t until they peeled the outer leaves at the house that the brown spots and mud became visible.

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

“I removed the outer leaves to put the ‘fresh’ inner leaves on our chicken burgers for dinner. Yeah, that didn’t happen considering I encountered a slimy, rotten mess. yuck!

“Outer sheets looked normal…definitely not paying $6.50 for something I have to throw straight at the chooks!”

Another Sydney customer shared a photo of her brown lettuce, saying, “I don’t mind paying what you’re asking for, but that’s ridiculous.”

Experts say brown, slimy spots on a lettuce — that don’t show up on the outer leaves — can be a sign of bacterial soft rot in lettuce.

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

A Sydney customer shared this image of iceberg lettuce she bought from her local Woolies. Credit: Facebook

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

Some Facebook users have pointed out that recent flooding may have contributed to lettuce issues.

“Did you stop and think maybe, just maybe, they got hit by the floods?” one asked. “It would be impossible to see what the inside looks like under the outer sheets.”

Woolworths responds

A Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket was 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 have passed this on to our suppliers and supply chain teams, who are assessing the existing lettuce supply for any discoloration. This will continue to be monitored.

“We have not received any other reports of 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 any of the supermarket’s products.