15 November 2022

People are now advised to check the poppy seeds in their kitchens following a nationwide recall of poppy seed products linked to poisoning.

NSW 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 part of 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 new information means these products should not be consumed in any amount.

Reports of unusual and severe symptoms following poppy seed consumption have now seen at least 12 people requiring medical attention in NSW after developing poisoning soon after ingestion, with additional cases nationally.

Medical Director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, A/Prof Darren Roberts, said the product was not considered safe to eat or to drink as the chemical detected in the poppy seed product can be dangerous.

“We are urging anyone who experiences any unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting their nearest Emergency Department. Call 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 NSW 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.

NSW Health is working with the NSW Food Authority, as well as other jurisdictions, to investigate the issue further.