High Alert Warning: Unwashed Poppy Seeds

Poppy seed tea sounds relatively harmless, right? Except it’s really not if you get the wrong kind of poppy seed.

Unwashed poppy seeds found in regular poppy seed supply have caused acute opioid toxicity hospitalisations in Victoria

The poppy seeds in question are being recalled in Aotearoa and Australia, but we’re throwing up a red flag, just in case.
Read MPI’s recall notice

Unwashed poppy seeds: What you need to know

Poppy seeds for cooking have been ‘washed’, which removes almost all of the leaves, stems, seeds, and other plant matter. This removes roughly 90% of the opioids. This lowers the risks for someone who wants to add them to their baking or salad. If you eat enough of them you still might fail a drug test if your work checks your pee to see how much fun you had on the weekend. But apart from that, the ones you get for cooking are pretty low risk.

Read the NZ Drug Foundation article on food-grade poppy seeds and failed drug screens

Unwashed poppy seeds, or poppy ‘straw’ that’s sold for tea still has all of the attached leaves and other plant matter, which increases the amount of opioids they have. They are not food grade, and not meant for human consumption.

The risks in unwashed poppy seeds come from not being able to measure the level or potency of opioids in them. Each batch of unwashed poppy seeds or straw can have massive differences in potency. Also making tea concentrates the opioids released from the seeds, which makes it impossible for someone at home to judge how potent their poppy seed tea is.

If history has taught us anything about opioids, you really want to be as precise as you can when measuring your dose. Removing this accuracy creates a whole load of unnecessary risk. If you start feeling iffy after drinking poppy tea, call an ambulance immediately. Don’t wait to find out if you’ll be right in a minute or two.

The poppy seed brands affected in Aotearoa are:

  • Davis Food Ingredients
  • Attitude Foods
  • Bin Inn
  • Essenté
  • Farm By Nature
  • Foodfirst
  • Fresh Line
  • Icelandic
  • Wholesale Foods

Read our blog on how to help someone in an opioid toxicity situation

Read the High Alert article on poppy seed tea

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