The grandmother of the family, 66-year-old Carmela Messina, prepared the dish believing the ingredient was edible turnip greens. She fell ill along with her partner Pasquale Severino, 65, her 46-year-old daughter Giuseppa Finocchiaro and her 11-year-old grandson.
The plant is believed to be ‘deadly nightshade’ (belladonna), the symptoms of which include slurred speech, paralysis and can lead to coma and death.
“I cannot forget the image in my head of my mother and sister paralyzed on the ground. They stared blankly. They could not even speak,” Maurizio Finocchiaro told Turin-based newspaper La Stampa. Finocchiaro was saved from the toxic plant as he was late for dinner, delayed by chatting to neighbours, the newspaper reported.
As a result he was able to call the emergency services who took the family to hospital. While the child was the most strongly affected by ordeal, Italian media reported that all family members are now out of danger.