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Safety recall of some poppy seeds

The humble poppy seed, which has many uses and is found in many kitchens, has become the subject of a national health recall because some seeds have been linked to recent poisonings.

Reports of unusual and severe symptoms following poppy seed consumption have now seen at least 12 people requiring medical attention in NSW after developing poisoning soon after eating them, with additional cases nationally.

If you have poppy seeds in the pantry, check the list of potentially affected seeds by getting on the FSANZ website where they are listed.

NSW Health says the recalled products are not safe to consume and people who have purchased those recalled batches of poppy seeds should throw them out or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

A joint investigation with other states and territories and food safety authorities has found that non-food grade poppy seeds have been sold as part of food grade products.

Ongoing investigations indicate the presence of unusually high levels of a naturally occurring chemical (thebaine) in the poppy seeds is likely causing this toxicity.

It means these products should not be consumed in any amount.

Medical Director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Associate Professor Darren Roberts, said the product was not considered safe to eat or to drink as the chemical detected in the poppy seed product can be dangerous.

“We are urging anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting their nearest Emergency Department.

“Call triple zero for emergency assistance,” he said.

Reported symptoms can be severe, and can include, severe muscle cramping, muscle spasms and abnormal movements, seizures, and potential cardiac arrest.

The NSW Poisons Information Centre can be contacted 24/7 on 13 11 26 and can provide more information about poisons and what to do in suspected cases of poppy seed poisoning.

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