A previously recalled batch of poppy seeds in Australia has mistakenly been found in the supply chain and sickened at least one person.

The Coles supermarket chain recalled Royal Fields poppy seeds from stores in November. However, it was recently informed a customer had fallen ill and identified that some seeds were bought from stores in recent weeks. An investigation is ongoing to find out how recalled seeds were put back on sale.

NSW Health said the affected product is Royal Fields poppy seeds (Basfoods), with a best before date of June 25, 2024. It was previously recalled in November 2022.

The agency said this product is not safe to consume and people who have purchased the recalled batch should throw it out or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Past problem

In late 2022, almost 40 illnesses were reported across the country in people who consumed large amounts of poppy seeds in tea. The problem was seeds not intended for food use and containing high levels of thebaine had entered the supply chain. Thebaine is a natural chemical in poppy seeds that can be toxic in high concentrations.

Cases were recorded in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland. Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory. Patients reported poppy seed tea had an unusual dark brown color and bitter taste. 

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) coordinated a national recall of several brands of poppy seeds.

Symptoms of poisoning can include increased respiratory rate and muscle spasms, which can progress to seizures, breathing difficulty, and unconsciousness. They usually appear within minutes to hours. 

In response to the incident, industry guidance was developed. Poppy seeds are available in different grades that producers, importers, suppliers, distributors and retailers must know about. They include pharmaceutical or industrial grade, food grade for further manufacturing, such as baking, and food grade for direct-to-consumer sales. Only food grade poppy seeds should enter the food supply chain. Businesses must ensure seeds that are food grade for further manufacturing are not packed for retail sale.

Listeria in enoki mushrooms

Australia is also dealing with several recalls of enoki mushrooms from China and South Korea due to Listeria. No related illnesses have yet been reported.

​​Listeria monocytogenes was detected in some imported fresh enoki mushrooms and the products have been recalled. Officials told people to make sure that any storage containers, fridge compartments, and utensils used to prepare or store recalled items are thoroughly cleaned. 

Consumers are advised to not eat any enoki mushrooms raw. They should be stored in the refrigerator and cooked thoroughly to kill any bacteria.

FSANZ is coordinating a national survey investigating the prevalence and levels of Listeria in enoki mushrooms. Food sampling was undertaken from April to June 2023 in all states and territories where the product is available.  

Survey results will be used to develop a risk profile for domestically produced enoki mushrooms, advise on risks associated with imported products and consider the need for additional risk management, such as regulatory or non-regulatory measures.

In 2020, six Listeria infections were found to be related to a U.S. outbreak strain linked to enoki mushrooms. Cases were notified between October 2017 and March 2020.

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