An Italian grandmother poisoned herself, her husband, her son, and her grandchildren with a 25-year-old hot chocolate packet. The 77-year-old woman, identified as Mrs. Rosetta, made the cold-weather favorite as a treat for her family, not realizing she was placing herself and her loved ones in danger.
Mrs. Rosetta is from northeastern Italy, in the town of Vicenza. The grandma made the hot chocolate for the family at the request of her grandchildren and her friend. She reportedly made extra cups for the adults to enjoy.
Not long after the 25-year-old hot chocolate was served, the Italian grandma, her family, and the friend were all transported to a local hospital with stomach pain and vomiting. Vicenza authorities were reportedly able to trace illness to the hot chocolate sachets, which expired in 1990.
Mrs. Rosetta’s husband was the first to become ill and complain of vomiting and an upset stomach about an hour after drinking the 25-year-old hot chocolate, according to a report by Il Mattino. After the husband became ill, the grandma, the rest of the family, and the friend, shortly followed suit.
The entire family was rushed to the hospital after the hot chocolate poisoning. One of the grandchildren had to be kept for treatment for 20 days, according to a report in Corriere Del Veneto. Theobromine poisoning or chocolate poisoning is reportedly caused by an overdose to the xanthine alkaloid theobromine found in chocolate, tea, or cola beverages. Lethal doses of theobromine have reportedly only been known to occur in humans, cats, dogs, rats, and mice.
Cocoa beans contain about 1.2 percent theobromine by weight on average. A single ounce of of raw cacao reportedly contains approximately 0.3 grams of theobromine. Processed chocolate typically contains smaller amounts of thebromine. The amount of theobromine is reportedly less significant in “highly-refined” chocolate candies, such as dark chocolate or unsweetened baker’s chocolate. Typically, the amount of theobromine present in chocolate is small enough such that the sweet treat can be consumed safely by humans. Some occasional serious side effects may result from the large consumption of chocolate have been reported in the elderly.
Although the hot chocolate poisoning by the Italian grandma appears to the local law enforcement officers to be accidental, the 77-year-old woman has been charged with “causing injury.” The 25-year-old hot chocolate case has now been passed onto the prosecuting attorney’s desk for further consideration.
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