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Re: Poinsettias

Let us put an end to this myth once and for all.

A direct quote, unedited, from the following website

Poinsettia Toxicity Among Most Widely Believed Folklore Myths (12/21/95)

For years, the public has been told not to eat unidentified wild
mushrooms or undercooked chicken. Some have even learned that raw fish
and moderate alcohol intake can be good for you. But in many cases the
majority still hold on to long-held beliefs affecting their health that
simply aren't true. This misinformation persists concerning many common
foods and plants, including the poinsettia plant. 

According to a l 995 Society of American Florists' poll conducted by
Bruskin/Goldring Research, many false myths were found to still pervade
society's consciousness: 45% of the total respondents mistakenly believe
that eating chocolate can cause acne; 45% falsely believe that sugar can
cause diabetes. 

In the same poll, a full 66% of respondents were found to mistakenly
believe that the poinsettia plant is toxic if eaten - a myth that has
persisted for more than 75 years. 


To set the record straight, scientific studies from Ohio State
University have proved the poinsettia to be non-toxic, and a variety of
professional organizations have also cleared the plant of its false

* POISINDEX, the information resource for the majority of U.S. poison
control centers, states that a 50-pound child would have to eat more
than l .25 lbs. of poinsettia bracts (500-600 leaves) to exceed the
experimental doses that found no toxicity. 

* According to the American Medical Association's Handbook of Poisonous
and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion
of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no effect. 

* The Consumer Product Safety Commission denied a petition in 1975 to
require warning labels for poinsettia plants, due to non-substantial
evidence. Of course, like other non-food items, the poinsettia is not
intended to be eaten. It's possible that those who do eat parts of the
plant may experience some degree of discomfort - but nothing more. 

"This myth has persisted too long," says Terril Nell, professor and
chairman of the Environmental Horticulture Department at the University
of Florida. "It would be a shame for consumers to miss the enjoyment of
this lovely holiday symbol in their homes because of this


And from <http://www.safnow.org/hotpress/dateline/jan1097.htm>, also

West Coast Ads Push Poinsettia Toxicity Myth  SAF Responds

Utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) recently gave quite a
charge to West Coast floral industry members with holiday public service
announcements that lumped poinsettias in with holly and mistletoe as
poisonous holiday plants . . . SAF immediately fired off a fax to PG&Es
advertising department to set the record straight . . . hours later, a
representative from PG&E called SAF to apologize for offending anyone
with this misinformation and said they amended the ad and sent new ones
to all the radio stations running it.

Through the efforts of SAF and other members of the floral industry, the
myth about toxic poinsettias is becoming a thing of the past . . . but
in case you hear any more false and/or negative advertising, let SAF be
your voice! 


My comment based on many years of experience in the arena of home and
child safety as an Investigator, and later as Product Safety Consultant,
for the U. S. Food and Drug Administration and Compliance Officer for
the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

TO BE SURE . . . it is not a good idea to allow your child or pet to eat
things that are not intended for internal consumption . . . including
poinsettia plants.  But please let's not, in this enlightened group of
botanical enthusiasts, persist in perpetuating a myth.

Another group, widely known for its interest in home and child safety,
the NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL, has been trying to dispel this myth since
the mid-1960s.  I know. I was there.

Albert F. Limberg
Senior Compliance Officer
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Retired)

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