Almost 40 illnesses have been reported in Australia in people who consumed large amounts of poppy seeds in tea.

Australian food authorities confirmed a batch of poppy seeds not intended for food use and containing high levels of thebaine entered the supply chain. It is still not clear how this happened.

Overall, 37 cases have been recorded with 14 in New South Wales, 11 in Victoria, and seven in Queensland. Western Australia has two while South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory all have one.

Thebaine is a natural chemical in poppy seeds that can be toxic in high concentrations. Poppy seeds high in thebaine are used in the production of medicines and other non-food products such as cosmetics and shampoo. It is not possible to tell which seeds have a high content by looking at them.

Poppy seeds used in tea

Some batches of poppy seeds, when brewed into a concentrated form such as tea, have resulted in severe toxicity. Patients reported poppy seed tea had an unusual dark brown color and bitter taste. 

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. 

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) announced a national recall in mid-November and has been managing the response with state and territory food authorities.

Hoyts Poppy Seeds, Gaganis Premium Australian Poppy Seed, East West Foods Wholesale Poppy Seeds, Basfoods International – Royal Fields Poppy Seeds, Freshco Foods Victoria – Uttam Khus Khus Poppy and Eumarrah Poppy Seeds are among recalled brands.

These poppy seeds were not available in New Zealand. However, in late November, Davis Trading Company recalled imported poppy seeds that were not intended for sale to the public.

Black poppy seeds from brands or stores including Davis Food Ingredients, Attitude Foods, Bin Inn, Essenté, Farm By Nature, Foodfirst, Fresh Line, Icelandic and Wholesale Foods were affected. They were sold at ethnic supermarkets, produce stores, and retail outlets throughout the country.

“Davis Trading Company sold the product directly to consumers when it was intended to be sold only to manufacturers as an ingredient for making other foods,” said Vincent Arbuckle, New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general.

“The concern with this product is that it contains higher levels of alkaloids. There is no evidence to suggest that the product is unsafe for use in normal cooking and baking at home,” he said.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Poppy seeds not meant for human consumption are behind a number of poisonings in Australia, according to health officials.

Investigators found the non-food grade poppy seeds incorrectly entered the food supply chain. It is not clear how this happened. They are not intended for people to eat and are not safe to consume.

There have been 11 cases in Victoria, 12 in New South Wales and at least one South Australian is affected. People have also fallen sick in Queensland and the ​Australian Capital Territory.

Two Western Australians suffered severe reactions after ingesting large quantities of poppy seeds in tea. They have both since recovered. No cases have been reported in Tasmania but recalled products have been sold in the state.

Some batches of poppy seeds, when brewed into a concentrated form such as tea, have resulted in severe toxicity. There has been one case of cardiac arrest and two people are in intensive care. Some patients reported poppy seed tea had an unusual dark brown color and bitter taste. 

Product recalls
The problem does not affect all poppy seeds. A number of recalls have been published by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for poppy seeds from affected brands across Australia. 

Hoyts Poppy Seeds, Gaganis Premium Australian Poppy Seed, East West Foods Wholesale Poppy Seeds, Basfoods International – Royal Fields Poppy Seeds, and Eumarrah Poppy Seeds are among recalled brands.

Officials said the supply chain is complex and an investigation to find out which brands and batches are affected is ongoing. They added consumers may wish to avoid poppy seeds purchased since September 2022.

The problem is due to high levels of the naturally occurring chemical thebaine in some batches of supermarket poppy seeds. It is not possible to tell which seeds have high thebaine content by looking at them. Poppy varieties rich in thebaine are used to produce medicines and are grown in Australia to supply the pharmaceutical industry.

Symptoms usually appear within minutes to hours and include seizures, severe stomach pain, and muscle spasms, cramps, or stiffness.

There have been no cases of poisoning in people who have eaten poppy seeds as part of baked food products.

Poisons information centers across the country can provide more information about what to do in suspected cases of poppy seed poisoning.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Health officials in Australia are warning about the dangers of having large amounts of poppy seeds after almost 20 people fell sick.

Nineteen people have gone to emergency departments across the country recently following the consumption of home-brewed poppy seed tea. There has been one case of cardiac arrest and two people are in intensive care.

Some patients reported the poppy seed tea had an unusual dark brown color and bitter taste. 

Poppy seeds are used to make tea by washing or soaking large quantities to remove the residual coating. A large quantity of unwashed poppy seeds is required to make the tea. Patients reported using between 120 grams and 1 kilogram of seeds.

New South Wales (NSW) Health said at least eight people in the state went to the hospital with severe poisoning soon after ingestion. Symptoms usually appear within hours and include seizures, severe stomach pain, and muscle spasms, cramps, or stiffness.

Suspected source revealed
Preliminary investigations suggest that high levels of a naturally occurring chemical in the raw poppy seeds may be a factor, which must be well-cooked to be destroyed.

Clinical presentations point to thebaine (an opioid alkaloid) toxicity. It is possible poppy seeds currently available in supermarkets may have a higher thebaine content than usual, however other causes have not been excluded. It is not possible to tell which poppy seeds have a high thebaine content by looking at the seeds, said health officials.

There have been no cases of poisoning in people who have eaten poppy seeds as part of baked food products.

Poisons information centers across the country can provide more information about what to do in suspected cases of poppy seed poisoning.

Darren Roberts, medical director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, said consuming large quantities of this chemical in poppy seeds can be dangerous.

“We are urging anyone who has had large quantities of poppy seeds, for example as a drink, and who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting their nearest emergency department,” he said. 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Healthy Planet – Oakville is recalling certain blue organic poppy seeds because of possible Salmonella contamination.

This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s inspection activities and comes after a string of poppy seed recalls in the month across Canada.

The recalled product has been sold at Healthy Planet – Oakville, 2501 Hyde Park Gate, Unit C2, Oakville, Ontario.

Recalled products:

Brand Product Size UPC Codes
None Blue organic poppy seeds Variable (sold in bulk) None All packages sold up to and including April 14, 2022

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumers should not eat the recalled product. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Industry is recalling more poppy seeds from the marketplace because of possible Salmonella contamination.

Additional brands have been added to the initial poppy seed recall on April 15 and the Inari brand recall on April 12. A full list of the recalled poppy seeds can be found below.

This recalls were triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s inspection activities.

The recalled products have been sold across Canada. 

Recalled products:

Brand Product Size UPC Codes Distribution
Grainworks Organic Poppy Seeds 500 g 6 27544 10863 6 Lot # 7788-08 Sold in Alberta and British Columbia and online
Grainworks Organic Poppy Seeds 1.5 kg 6 27544 10864 3 Lot # 7788-08 Sold in Alberta and British Columbia and online
Grainworks Organic Poppy Seeds 11.34 kg 6 27544 10862 9 Lot # 7788-08 Sold in Alberta and British Columbia and online
Moulin Abénakis Organic Poppy Seeds 400 g 0 67486 10904 7 All lots starting with 20, 21, or 22 Sold in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories
None Poppy Seeds 300 g 6 28384 90432 7 Lot # 112033113-07 12/16

Sold at:

Oak Manor Organic, 756907 Oxford County Road #5, Tavistock (Ontario)

None Organic Poppy Seeds Variable None All packages sold from May 21, 2021 to April 13, 2022 inclusively

Sold at:

Sunnyside Natural Market, 338 – 10th Street NW, Unit 10, Calgary (Alberta)

Brand Product Size UPC Codes
Inari Organic Blue Poppy Seeds 250 g 6 67390 35001 8 Lot #3142573 Exp:01/23 Lot #3182851 Exp:10/23 Lot #3227118 Exp:10/24

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumers should not eat the recalled product. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Industry is recalling various poppy seeds from the marketplace because of possible Salmonella contamination.

This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s inspection activities.

The recalled products have been sold across Canada. The specific locations and brands can be found in the table below.

Recalled products:

Brand Product Size UPC Codes Distribution
Grainworks Organic Poppy Seeds 500 g 6 27544 10863 6 Lot # 7788-08 Sold in Alberta and British Columbia and online
Grainworks Organic Poppy Seeds 1.5 kg 6 27544 10864 3 Lot # 7788-08 Sold in Alberta and British Columbia and online
Grainworks Organic Poppy Seeds 11.34 kg 6 27544 10862 9 Lot # 7788-08 Sold in Alberta and British Columbia and online
Moulin Abénakis Organic Poppy Seeds 400 g 0 67486 10904 7 All lots starting with 20, 21, or 22 Sold in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories
None Poppy Seeds 300 g 6 28384 90432 7 Lot # 112033113-07 12/16

Sold at:

Oak Manor Organic, 756907 Oxford County Road #5, Tavistock (Ontario)

None Organic Poppy Seeds Variable None All packages sold from May 21, 2021 to April 13, 2022 inclusively

Sold at:

Sunnyside Natural Market, 338 – 10th Street NW, Unit 10, Calgary (Alberta)

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumers should not eat the recalled product. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Puresource Natural Products is recalling Inari brand Organic Blue Poppy Seeds because of possible Salmonella contamination.

The recalled product has been sold in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.

Recalled product:

Brand Product Size UPC Codes
Inari Organic Blue Poppy Seeds 250 g 6 67390 35001 8 Lot #3142573 Exp:01/23 Lot #3182851 Exp:10/23 Lot #3227118 Exp:10/24

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Consumers should not eat the recalled product. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased.

About Salmonella infections

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

– OPINION –

A year ago the Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the Food and Drug Administration to protect consumers from unprocessed poppy seeds contaminated with naturally occurring opiate residues. In a regulatory petition filed along with medical experts and six families injured by contaminated poppy seeds, we asked the agency to clean up America’s poppy seed supply by setting a maximum limit for opiate contamination and establishing controls on imported seeds.

CSPI is asking the FDA for an update on the petition. Other than issuing pro forma responses and collecting comments on a public docket, the FDA has taken no public action, despite increased interest in this issue from consumers, state officials, and members of Congress from both parties. The vast majority of the nearly 3,300 comments to the docket were submitted by individual consumers concerned that the FDA was allowing opiate-contaminated poppy seeds into the food supply.

Poppy seed muffin

European regulators established maximum levels of morphine and codeine in poppy seeds and baked goods last year, which are scheduled to take effect in July. In the U.S., while the Department of Justice has pursued enforcement against at least one individual distributor of poppy seeds for allegedly violating drug control laws, that enforcement has not been sufficient to block even that one company from selling seeds.

Last year, researchers at CSPI and Connecticut Poison Control Center co-authored a study documenting injuries related to poppy seed consumption. The group estimates that there have been 20 non-fatal overdoses and 19 deaths in the United States attributable to opiate-contaminated poppy seeds, most of which have occurred since 2015. In a letter to Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, CSPI said that creating standards for poppy seeds would help address the problem.

“The time is overdue for the FDA to establish standards that will protect U.S. consumers from ingesting dangerous levels of opiates through the food supply,” CSPI wrote. “Accordingly, we are requesting a meeting with you to review the evidence supporting our requests, and to receive an update on the status of our petition.”

If you would like more information from CSPI scientists or lawyers about our work in this area, or would like to talk to families injured by contaminated poppy seeds, click here.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is urging the Food and Drug Administration to protect consumers from unprocessed poppy seeds, which are often contaminated with the plant’s naturally occurring opiate residues.

The nonprofit nutrition and food safety watchdog group on Feb. 5  filed a regulatory petition with the FDA on behalf of six families injured by contaminated poppy seeds and medical experts. They’re asking regulators to clean up America’s poppy seed supply by setting a maximum threshold for opiate contamination and establishing controls on imported seeds.

Steve and Betty Hacala of Rogers, AR, lost their 24-year-old son Stephen in 2016 to a poppy seed tea overdose.

“It was hard for us to believe that something as innocent and common as poppy seeds could be lethal,” said Steve Hacala, one of the petitioners. “Now we want to make sure the poppy seeds brought into this country are cleaned, to spare other families this kind of loss.”

Poppy seeds used in baking come from the same plant that produces opiates, including morphine and codeine. The poppy plant cannot be legally grown in the United States, meaning all poppy seeds sold in this country are imported from countries where cultivation is permitted. While the seeds themselves contain negligible amounts of opiates, they can be contaminated with plant debris and require washing and processing to reduce opiate contamination to safe levels.

Not all importers adequately process their seeds, and some sellers even market poppy seeds as “unwashed” or “unprocessed” to convey that they have high levels of opiates to consumers who may purchase the seeds to brew poppy seed tea. This tea is typically used for medicinal, therapeutic, or recreational purposes and can concentrate the opiates from a batch of seeds. Consumers of these seeds may not be aware that the effects from the consumption of the seeds may be because of opiates. In addition, opiate contamination levels can vary widely from batch to batch, putting those who drink the tea at increased risk of accidental overdose or other health consequences.

Other signatories of the petition include Linda Golden of South Carolina and Jeffery Folds of Georgia, the mother and cousin of Todd Shirley, who died at age 48 in 2019 because of poppy seed tea overdose; and Bob and Lori Morales, and Kristen Harris, all of Nevada, the parents, and wife of Kendall Harris, who died at age 38 because of overdose from unwashed poppy seeds purchased on Amazon. Paul Lancia of St. Louis, MO, joined the petition after his wife suffered multiple strokes which her doctor suspected were caused by heavy poppy seed tea consumption.

Some signatories to the petition were shocked to find they tested positive for drugs after unwittingly consuming contaminated poppy seeds. Neither Elizabeth Dominguez of Tonawanda, NY, nor Jamie Silakowski of Depew, NY, used any opioids during their pregnancy, but both tested positive after eating baked goods with poppy seeds.

“I’m devastated that a simple poppy seed bagel could cause this much distress,” said Dominguez, who tested positive for opioids during routine drug testing given to mothers prior to delivery in some hospitals. She was temporarily separated from her newborn and visited at home multiple times by Child Protective Services because of the test triggered by poppy seeds.

The petition was also joined by Dr. Irving Haber, a pain medicine specialist, and Dr. Madeleine Swortwood, a researcher at Sam Houston State University, who have published studies documenting the risks of poppy seed tea.

The petition follows the publication this past month of a study co-authored by CSPI scientists in Clinical Toxicology showing that adverse events from the consumption of opiate-contaminated poppy seeds may be on the rise. Medical and government publications have documented more than 600 reported adverse events including 20 overdoses and 19 total fatalities attributed to poppy in the U.S., with most fatalities have occurred since 2015.

CSPI previously called on the FDA and the Drug Enforcement Agency to address the risks of contaminated poppy seeds in April of 2019. In December 2019, the DEA clarified that selling opiate-contaminated poppy seeds can be illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a nonprofit  food and health organization that serves as a watchdog group for public interests.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

In a letter to the country’s top medical official, the Center for Science in the Public Interest asked U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to issue an advisory warning people of the dangers of contaminated, unwashed poppy seeds and poppy seed pods.

Opium and other chemicals in the unwashed seeds and seed pods have caused numerous deaths and serious overdoses, some of which caused permanent brain damage, according to the letter from leaders for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The poppy seeds and seed pods are sold as so-called natural food, usually intended to be eaten or brewed into tea.

Online sales of the seeds and seed pods are of particular concern, according to the letter signed by CSPI leaders Peter Lurie, president, Laura MacCleery policy director, and Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs. They say the products are easily obtained from websites such as amazon.com and ebay.com. They also told the surgeon general that other websites offer “recipes” for brewing tea that concentrate the opium from pounds of the seeds or pods into relatively small amounts of liquid.

Some websites and blogs also offer tips on how to determine which unwashed poppy seeds and pods to buy to obtain the highest concentrations of morphine, codeine, thebaine, and other opiate alkaloids, according to the CSPI letter.

The group sent a similar letter to the Food and Drug Administration’s leadership in April. In Monday’s letter to Surgeon General Adams, the CSPI leadership repeated several points included in the letter to the FDA. 

“Typically, the fact that the seeds may be contaminated with opiates is not clearly indicated in the labeling or advertising materials, and users seeking contaminated seeds instead utilize coded language in product reviews, sometimes offered on third-party blogs, to signal which seeds are most likely to contain high concentrations of opiates,” the CSPI told the surgeon general. 

“The contaminated seeds thus remain widely available, including through the online shopping platform Amazon.com, despite the fact that the retailer has been informed multiple times of the risks of these products, including on April 25, 2018, by Sen. Tom Cotton, on July 13, 2018, by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and most recently on Feb. 27 in a letter sent by the family of a victim who died from poppy seeds purchased on the platform.”

Some people who have opioid use disorder use these products as substitutes for other opioids, according to the CSPI letter and statements from the FDA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Other people have begun using the products believing they were harmless natural herbal remedies, not fully realizing the potential for dependence and abuse.

The CSPI letter to the surgeon general included a chart with information about people who have suffered severe consequences of using unwashed poppy seeds and or pods. The letter also provided history and international context for regulating such products.

“The opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, naturally produces opiate alkaloids, including morphine, codeine, and thebaine, which are concentrated in the seed pod and milky sap of the plant. The opiates found in the Papaver somniferum plant are highly addictive, leading the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to list ‘poppy straw,’ which is defined as parts of the poppy plant other than the seeds, as a controlled substance under Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). As a result of this listing, and under the provisions of several international agreements, Papaver somniferum cannot be legally cultivated in the United States, and therefore raw materials must be imported to produce opioids for pharmaceutical use as well as poppy seeds sold as foods. . . 

“Poppy seeds may become contaminated with poppy straw and sap in the fields or during harvest, necessitating washing and processing to remove the alkaloids. 

“The European Commission has developed guidance on good practices to prevent and reduce the presence of opium alkaloids in poppy seeds and poppy seed products. These practices begin with selecting seeds from varieties cultivated for food use, which are bred to contain a low level of opium alkaloids. Appropriate processing can be highly effective; the combination of washing and drying can reduce morphine concentrations in highly contaminated batches of raw poppy seeds (original concentrations vary from 50 to 220 mg morphine/kg) down to concentrations below 4 mg morphine/kg without loss of quality and organoleptic properties.

“The United Kingdom has issued guidance setting a target level of 10 mg morphine/kg for the presence in poppy seeds placed on the market destined for the final consumer. . . 

“One research team at Sam Houston State University recently analyzed samples of poppy seeds purchased online and found that morphine concentrations in some samples were high enough to yield 2788 mg of morphine from 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of seeds, in addition to codeine and thebaine. 

“Assuming a batch of seeds with up to 2788 mg/kg of morphine, brewing 0.44 lbs. of seeds per the Mercola recipe instructions could produce up to 557 mg morphine, and 3 lbs of seeds (the maximum suggested by Chewworld.com) could yield up to 3801 mg of morphine. These amounts are well above the dose of 50 morphine mg equivalents per day demonstrated to increase the risk of overdose among patients prescribed morphine for pain treatment.

The CPSI’s letter includes links to source material documenting numerous cases of overdose, dependence, and death, “and these cases appear to be more common over time.” CSPI has identified 5 cases of non-fatal overdose, 7 cases of opioid dependence, and 13 confirmed deaths associated with the use of poppy seeds or seed pods from the medical literature, a 2010 DOJ Drug Alert, and case reports in the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) database.

“All but four of these 25 cases involved men — 84 percent — and the median age was 26 years (with a range of) 6 weeks-82 years; age was unavailable for six cases,” the letter states. “Typically, the product was administered as a tea, usually made from about 1-2 pounds of poppy seeds, but occasionally from the poppy pod. Eighteen of the cases took place in the United States, including all 13 deaths. 

“. . . Based on our review, the problem appears to be worsening in recent years.”

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)