After fifty-five years of medical practice I thought I had seen everything. That was until I heard the amazing and almost unbelievable story of the exploding Medjool Date.
The phone rang yesterday afternoon, it was my daughter. We talk most days, but yesterday she sounded a little anxious.
"I have a really strange story to tell you Dad ," she said, "You won't believe it!"
"Try me,"I said.
"I was eating some delicious dates that I had bought at Costco when
all of a sudden, as I go bit into one, it exploded in my mouth!"
"It exploded in my mouth and a huge cloud of what looked like black
smoke came out of my mouth." she said. "For a moment I actually
thought there was a fire in the condo".
"Are you okay?" I asked.
" I'm fine", she laughed, "though I'm still spitting up some black stuff."
I didn't find that quite so funny. I knew she would follow up on this. She's a nurse.
"What's in the literature?" I asked.
I know my daughter. Mr. Google is a close friend of hers. If
there was information about this on the net, she would know about it before the professors of infectious diseases!
"Better let Costco know," I said, not knowing anything about this
weird phenomenon , "better let your Family Doc document this too."
"Oh, in case there are any long term consequences?" she asked.
"No, to get a refund," I laughed. But It was too late to deny my concern.
"Yes, I will have to search the literature." I answered truthfully.. After all, what do I know?
Well, I did search the literature.and lo and behold, I found all
sorts of reference to occurrences of this phenomenon. Just ask Mr.
Google and you'll get more than you bargained for! It appears that
dates have a definite predilection for the climate they were born in.
They like it hot and dry and just a small amount of moisture
predisposes them to fungal infection. The incident described above is
due to an infection with the fungus Aspergillus Niger which causes a
disease called Black Mould on certain fruits and vegetables and is a
common contaminant of foods. It rarely causes disease in humans unless
they are immunocompromised or have certain other lung diseases, though I
do remember seeing a few ear infections caused by it. The dramatic
manner in which it presented itself as described here and elsewhere is
alarming and pictures of the rotting core of the date compounds the
horror the victims experience, despite reassurances of the benign
outcome of the contact.
I will be dissecting any dates I eat in the future to avoid the Black Mould!!