A TOWNSVILLE woman got an awful fright when she found a mature female redback spider in a head of supermarket broccoli.
Tamahra Moore, 32, was slicing a head of broccoli at her North Ward home on Sunday when she spotted the full-grown female spider.
"I was chopping all my vegies up for the week when I saw a flash of black and red, the bloody thing just crawled out," Mrs Moore said.
"I would have probably been better off with takeaway, as I quite easily could have been bitten."
Mrs Moore carved the stem off and placed the florets into a plastic container and returned it to Coles North Ward.
"I called the supermarket so they could go check the rest of their stock and they didn't believe me so I took the container in and the ladies on the front counter freaked out," she said.
"They got the produce manager who said he had heard about it but had never seen it. He asked to keep it so he could show the distribution centre team and I said 'that's fine', I didn't know what to do with it."
Mrs Moore, a commercial lawyer, threw out the rest of the broccoli and admits she is now "apprehensive" about the vegetable.
A Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket chain had "quality control procedures" in place to avoid such incidents in the supply chain.
The company's national quality team is following up with the North Ward supermarket and suppliers to investigate.
Queensland Museum principal spider curator Dr Robert Raven said pictures of the mature redback showed it "looked ready to drop eggs" and could have caused a "serious envenomation".
"She could have been building a silken nest in the broccoli as it would have provided a warm, moist location for the eggs it may have been ready to lay," he said.
"It's certainly not common but it can happen as redbacks can survive a long time in the distribution chain because they can live for a while without a lot of air or water and they can endure cold temperatures for long periods."
Last year a Woolworths customer complained of finding a redback in broccoli bought on the Gold Coast.
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