Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is coordinating a national recall of certain batches of poppy seeds due to the potential presence of the acutely toxic chemical thebaine.
Poppy varieties rich in thebaine are used for the production of medicines and are grown in Australia to supply the pharmaceutical industry.
Poppy seeds grown for food consumption have little or no detectable thebaine and are safe to consume.
Thebaine is a naturally occurring plant alkaloid of the opiate family.
The presence of thebaine is linked to unsafe poppy seeds entering the supply chain. The cause is being investigated by state and territory food authorities.
Consumers have reported severe reaction due to the presence of thebaine in high concentrations where poppy seeds have been used to brew “tea” or have otherwise been consumed in high quantities. There have been no reports of illness from the use of modest amounts of poppy seeds in other products.
Clinical presentation of thebaine poisoning can include tachycardia, hypertension, hypertonia, clonus, unsteady gait, diaphoresis (sweating), limb stiffness or jerking, seizures, metabolic acidosis, acute kidney injury and unconsciousness.
Thebaine is a known toxin with the signal word “Danger” and GHS Hazard Statements H300 and H301 “Fatal if swallowed”, H310 and 311 “Fatal in contact with skin”, H330 “Fatal if inhaled” and H373 “Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure”.
Manufacturers are advised not to use affected batches of poppy seeds and return.
Find out more about the recall here: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/industry/foodrecalls/recalls/nationalrecallpoppyseeds/Pages/National-Recall-of-Poppy-Seeds.aspx