Dubai: Nothing can put you off your meal more than opening a can of beans and finding something staring back at you from inside the tin.
For Sandeep Sequeira that nightmare was all too true. He had bought a can of Kimball baked beans from a grocery store in Bur Dubai on Wednesday morning.
"When I got home I opened the can and I spotted something weird. So I took a spoon, placed the spoon under what was bothering me and lifted the spoon. It was half a lizard."
"I was lucky enough that it was right on top of the can. I was going to eat half the can only. I can only imagine if it was [right] at the bottom of the can."
He adds that the can didn't seem damaged in any way.
Other weird things that found their way into people's food
Sequeira contacted the municipality and a food inspector was sent to investigate the matter.
"The inspector met with me and took the can and the lizard so that they can test it," Sequeira said.
"We have already pulled all Kimball baked bean cans with the same manufacture date and lot number as the one found to be contaminated," Ahmad Al Ali, head of the Food Inspection Section at Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News on Sunday.
"We were very surprised to see this kind of contamination in food products. It was fortunate that this was a contaminant that could be seen with the naked eye. However, such contaminants are very difficult to detect through port inspections," Al Ali said.
He said the municipality takes samples of imported food products to test before releasing the shipment.
"To detect something like this you'd have to open every can."
Al Ali went on to say that they have contacted the regional supplier of Kimball foods to explain how the lizard ended up in the can.
"We have also asked that we be supplied with a report of a full health and safety inspection of the Kimball factory in Malaysia, as well as evid-ence of improvement to ensure that there is no repeat of this kind of contamination."
Choithrams is the regional supplier for Kimball foods. Attempts by Gulf News to contact them went unanswered.
"I'm just letting people know about this. It's your job to tell your friends about this, because the other half of the lizard might be in their can," Sequeira said.
"The baked beans were cooked and canned in Malaysia, so the bottom half of the lizard might be anywhere in the world right now," he added.
The contaminated can was produced on January 13, 2010 and expires on July 13, 2011.
If one comes across this batch of beans, please contact Dubai Municipality on 800900.
Taking precautions: House lizard ‘not toxic'
Eating food with a dead lizard is not poisonous and you do not die consuming such contaminated food, doctors said.
"Canned food is usually cooked in high temperature and will kill off any toxins," said Dr Lalit Uchil, specialist family physician at the Welcare Ambulatory Care Centre. "The stories you hear about people dying after eating food with a dead lizard is only anecdotal," he said. The lizard found in the can is apparently the common house lizard variety. While these are not poisonous, the live lizards are likely to carry certain bacteria which can cause salmonella, which results in vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. That is why it is necessary to wash hands when you touch a house lizard.
— Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter
Have you ever come across this kind of situation? What were the ramifications? Did the authorities take action?