Is Plant Food Poisonous?

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Plant food helps plants grow, but is not safe for human consumption.

Plant food, more commonly known as plant fertilizer, consists of a category of gardening products that are designed to improve the health and growth of plants. While plant foods and fertilizers are good for plants, they are not safe for human or animal consumption and can cause sickness or physical harm if ingested by a person or pet.


What Makes Plant Food Toxic

Toxic plant foods and fertilizers contain nitrates. According to Colorado State University, nitrate is a form of nitrogen that can be consumed by plants through the soil. Plants absorb the nitrate as a basic part of their growth. Humans and animals should not consume high levels nitrate, as it can be toxic in large doses.

Who is at Risk?

Children and animals are more likely to suffer adverse effects from touching and consuming plant foods due to their relatively low body weight and size. The larger and heavier a being is, the less likely a small amount of plant fertilizer is to harm it. If a small child or pet consumes a significant amount of plant food, the consequences may be very severe.


Symptoms of Nitrate Poisoning

According to Medline Plus, a government-based health website, the symptoms of plant fertilizer poisoning include burning skin, throat, nose or eyes; dizziness; itchy or red skin; fainting; blue coloring of the lips, palms or fingernails; low blood pressure; breathing problems; seizures; stomach problems; vomiting and nausea. If you believe you or someone in your household has consumed plant food, call the poison control center immediately and seek medical attention.

Risks of Plant Food

In addition to being toxic if swallowed, plant food can burn skin if it comes in contact with your bare flesh. It can also cause problems if you breath it in. In order to minimize the risks associated with plant foods and fertilizers, you should store it in a safe location far away from children and pets. You should also wear gloves and protective clothing when handling it. Read all product packaging and instructions for specific issues with specific products.



Jen Davis

Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.