Public Health England has sent a letter to major British supermarket chains asking them “to ensure that daffodils, both the bulbs from which they sprout and the cut variety too, are displayed well away from the produce of fruit and vegetable area.” A number of shoppers “for whom English was not their first language” have mistaken the stalks for Chinese chives, an ingredient used in stir-fry and dumpling dishes. Eating daffodils results in vomiting and other gastrointestinal distress although ordinarily no lasting effects. [Telegraph, BBC]
One wonders why an informational strategy — perhaps especially aimed at word of mouth in the Chinese community — would not be preferred. Gail Heriot comments (via Facebook):
When we act to minimize tiny risks we often create other risks that will go unnoticed. Flowers are kept near produce in grocery stores in part because they both need water from time to time to stay fresh. One guy with a mop can take care of spills pretty efficiently. If the two are separated, he may be a tad less quick about getting that job done. If some little old lady slips, no one ever makes the connection between her broken leg and this nonsensical daffodil policy. Trying to deal with tiny, oddball risks frequently results in increasing more ordinary risks to everyday shoppers. The thing to do is cool it.
P.S.: Chuckle at “handwashing optional” Senator if you like, but then try actually thinking through what value choice might have in food safety [Jacob Grier]