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Warning to public on poisonous seeds



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DG90/84

- S ’

WARNING TO PUBLIC ON POISONOUS SEEDS

The Commonwealth Department of Health warned tonight

that necklaces containing dangerous seeds may have been sold by a Canberra gift shop.

The possibility was revealed by Customs inspectors who

detected a quantity of seeds containing strychnine in neck­ laces sent by mail from Nepal to the gift shop last week.

The seeds could cause serious illness or death if sucked,

chewed or swallowed.

Further investigation has revealed that the shop — the Vogue Gift Shop in Garema Place, Canberra City — may have un­ knowingly sold necklaces containing the same seeds over a period of ten or fifteen years. The last sale could have been about

18 months ago.

Examination by CSIRO amd the Poisonous Plants Section at the National Botanic Gardens has confirmed that the newly- arrived necklaces contain the highly-poisonous seeds.

The Health Departmfeftt warned that anyone who suspects they have such a necklace in their possession should ensure that it is kept away from children and returned as quickly as possible to the nearest Australian Customs Service office for

identification and destruction if necessary.

The disc-shaped seeds are dull grey or beige in colour, about the size of a 5 or 10 cent piece, 3mm thick, and with a

somewhat uneven surface.

The necklaces seized last week are in a native handicraft style. They comprise a black band of plainted string to which is attached, by wire or metal bands, seed pods, shells, animal teeth, coloured beads, and small medallions or coins.

The Health Department warned that on no account should any seeds in such necklaces be sucked, chewed or swallowed.

CANBERRA, 3 August 1984

BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE NECKLACES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE PUBLIC RELATIONS SECTION, DEPT. OF INDUSTRY & COMMERCE -­ TEL. V 72-4513. A NECKLACE IS ALSO AVAILABLE FOR TV FILMING.