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National recall of some poppy seeds

16 November 2022

Queenslanders are being urged to check for poppy seeds in their kitchens following a nationwide recall of poppy seed products linked to poisoning.

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

Products affected are listed on the FSANZ website and will be updated as needed.

A joint investigation with other states and territories and food safety authorities found the non-food grade poppy seeds have been sold as 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. The recalled products should not be consumed in any amount.

Reports of unusual and severe symptoms following poppy seed consumption have now resulted in at least six people requiring medical attention in Queensland after developing poisoning soon after ingestion, with additional cases nationally.

Dr Peter Aitken, Acting General Manager, Queensland Public Health and Scientific Services said the product was not considered safe to consume as the high levels of thebaine detected in the poppy seed product can be dangerous.

“We urge anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by attending an Emergency Department or calling triple zero for emergency assistance,” he said.

Reported symptoms can be severe, including:

  • severe muscle cramping, muscle spasms and abnormal movements
  • seizures
  • cardiac arrest

The Queensland 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.

Queensland Health is working with all stakeholders and other jurisdictions to investigate the issue further.

Last updated: 21 November 2022