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December 15, 2022

Recall of Poppy Seeds in Australia and New Zealand

Update on national recall of poppy seeds
Australian food authorities today announced preliminary findings on the cause of contamination which led to a national recall of poppy seeds.

While investigations are ongoing, it has been confirmed a batch of poppy seeds not intended for food use and containing high levels of thebaine entered the supply chain.

Thebaine is a natural chemical found in poppy seeds which can be toxic in high concentrations.
A total of 37 cases of illness were reported nationally among people who consumed large amounts of poppy seeds.

The national recall of several brands was successful in removing affected products from the market.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) announced the Australian national recall on 15 November 2022 and has been working with state and territory food authorities to manage the response and continue investigations.

Poppy seeds high in thebaine are used in the production of medicines and other non-food products such as cosmetics and shampoo.

Food-grade poppy seeds are low in thebaine and safe to consume. Washing, soaking and baking also reduces thebaine levels.

Food authorities are working collaboratively to prevent non-food grade poppy seeds from entering the food supply again.
Background The 37 reported cases of illness nationally were across most states and territories, as follows: NSW 14 QLD 7 WA 2 SA 1 VIC 11 TAS 1 ACT 1 NT 0 People should not consume poppy seed products identified in the national recall.

Symptoms of thebaine poisoning can include breathing difficulty, breathing more rapidly than normal, muscle spasms and unconsciousness.

Consumers should immediately seek medical attention if they experience any of these symptoms, particularly if they have consumed large quantities of poppy seeds.

New Zealand situation:
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) also published a recall relating to a number of brands of poppy seeds. Further information can be viewed here.