Store sold inedible gourd seedlings as being safe to eat

Kyodo

Decorative calabash gourd seedlings sold at stores nationwide were mislabeled “for edible use,” Royal Home Center Co., run by the Daiwa House Industry Co., said.

The mistake came to light after someone in Nara Prefecture was hospitalized after coming down with symptoms of food poisoning, apparently after consuming calabash or bottle gourd grown from the seedlings earlier this month.

Company representatives apologized Sunday for “causing so much trouble and inconvenience,” and warned customers not to eat the calabash gourds.

Some varieties of calabash are edible, but the three types of seedlings sold by Royal Home Center were not.

Customers who purchased any of the three types — clustering gourds, large-sized gourds and “tsurukubi,” or long-necked gourds — can get a refund.

The young plants, labeled as “fun to grow and delicious to eat,” were sold at 30 stores in 11 prefectures: Chiba, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Aichi, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama and Hiroshima, between April and June in both 2013 and 2014.

The company said 3,072 seedlings were sold.

Royal Home Center said the gourds were sold with the same labels the producer — Green Plaza Yamacho — had put on the packages when shipping the seedlings.

The company decided to recall the remaining products after receiving a complaint from a consumer who had purchased mislabeled seedlings from a local distributor and grew the gourds.

According to the complaint reported July 7, the purchaser’s friend — a woman in her 40s from Nara Prefecture — developed symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting after consuming the fruit.

Royal Home Center said the company will take steps to improve procedures for verifying labels and was considering further measures to prevent any reoccurrences.

For more information about refunds, call Royal Home Center’s customer center at 0120-256-186. For details on the products offered by Green Plaza Yamacho, consumers can contact the producer at 0743-75-3003.