Wild greens put seven in hospital

Seven people who thought they were sitting down to a healthy meal of wild greens ended up in hospital yesterday with severe food poisoning while two of them were in a comatose state, authorities said yesterday. The people, from three families, were hospitalized in the Ippocrateio and Erythros Stavros (Red Cross) hospitals after having consumed the vegetables purchased from a Veropoulos supermarket in Koukaki, central Athens. Instead of eating regular wild greens, doctors said that the patients had eaten a plant called Datura, a leafy herb that is known for causing delirious states and poisonings. «From the first moment, doctors connected the cases and realized that in all incidents the reason was the consumption of vegetables which had been supplied by the same store,» Dimitris Varvitsiotis, deputy director of Ippocrateio hospital, told Kathimerini. Medical staff notified food authorities which have since demanded that the company withdraw the product. Veropoulos said late yesterday that all stores in Attica that have vegetables resembling the plant that caused the poisoning have removed the items from the shelves. Meanwhile, a medical expert yesterday warned consumers of the health problems caused by vegetables that contain harmful chemical substances after being treated with pesticides. Panagiotis Ginopoulos, a professor at the Patras Hospital, said that farmers in western Greece have a mortality rate some 40 percent higher than people in city centers. This highlights the connection between cancers that are due to the use of pesticides in the area, said Ginopoulos. Higher mortality rates also afflict other areas of Greece such as Iraklion, Crete, but there have been no studies to confirm the connection since cancers develop for a wide variety of reasons. On the food quality front, a Eurobarometer survey showed yesterday that 65 percent of Greeks consider quality to be most important criteria for choosing food versus an average of 42 percent in Europe.