The Public Health Agency (PHA) is warning members of the public about a potential health risk associated with a strung seed bracelet which has been on sale across the UK, including at the Eden Project, a popular tourist attraction in Cornwall.
The distinctive red and black bracelet is made from the jequirity bean, which contains a poisonous substance called abrin.
Dr Gerry Waldron, Health Protection Consultant, PHA, said: “The beans have a characteristic red and black ladybird-like appearance.
“Although these bracelets are not known to have been sold through any outlets in Northern Ireland, the PHA is alerting the public so that in the unlikely event that anyone has one of these bracelets, they can dispose of them safely.
“People who have been bought or given this type of bracelet in the last two years should put it in a sealable bag and dispose of it in their household waste. As an additional precaution, owners should also wash their hands and avoid contact with eyes after bagging.”
The PHA would like to reassure the public that all the necessary actions have already been taken and the bracelet has been withdrawn from all retailers in the UK.
Anyone who is concerned that they may have ingested the seeds from this plant should seek medical advice immediately. There may be a delay of up to three days before symptoms, such as vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhoea, occur. Bracelets containing jequirity beans are not particularly harmful in their natural state. There is a risk if the beans are chewed, crushed or drilled into a dust and then eaten. The seeds are not expected to cause serious problems if swallowed whole and not chewed.
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9055 3663.
Photo credit: The Eden Project