ADPH conducts investigation following accidental chemical ingestion in Muscle Shoals feed store


CONTACT: Karen M. Landers, M.D., F.A.A.P.
(256) 246-1714

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is investigating an accidental exposure to herbicide at the Rural King Store in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The exposure was limited in scope, and local hospitals have been briefed on the treatment of this herbicide.

While there is no ongoing health threat, any people who ate free popcorn at the store between 2:30 and 3:45 p.m. Sunday, August 26, are advised to contact their physician or local emergency room for guidance if they have symptoms of illness or concerns. Any uneaten remaining popcorn should be discarded.

District Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers said, “According to scientific literature, this is a very self-limiting situation with acute exposure and no long-term effects. Symptoms are likely to have been resolved already and no antidote is required.”

Rural King has cooperated with the investigation. Between 30 and 40 persons obtained popcorn at the store before it was discovered that herbicide might have been accidentally mixed in the popcorn oil during the preparation process. Rural King rapidly recognized the problem and took corrective action. The store stopped the popcorn distribution immediately and discarded its popcorn machine before ordering a new one.

The herbicide glyphosate which was accidentally mixed in is used to treat weeds. It is of low toxicity to animals and humans, but it is formulated with other ingredients that can cause increased saliva, burns in the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Glyphosate is eliminated from the body quickly and does not accumulate.

The investigation is ongoing.