Poppy crop up close

There is a national recall of poisonous poppies. What is thebaine? And how to get sick from poppies?

A nationwide recall of poppy seeds has been announced following a spate of poisonings across the country.

Meanwhile, non-food grade poppy seeds containing large amounts of the controlled drug thebaine have been discovered in the food supply chain. Here is the situation as it is.

What has happened so far?

Over the weekend, Victorian health officials warned of the risks of brewing poppy tea after 19 people suffered toxic contamination.

At least 12 people in NSW have required medical attention after ingesting poppy seed products.

Two people in Western Australia suffered severe reactions after drinking poppy seed tea. Both have recovered.

You can’t tell which seeds have toxic levels of thebaine by looking at them, says the Victorian Health Board. (James Jooste)

Which poppy seed products have been recalled?

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has announced a recall of poppy seeds sold by five brands at Woolworths, Coles, IGA, online and other independent retailers.

Items include:

  • Eumarah Mohn
  • Hoyt’s poppy
  • Gaganis Premium Australian Poppy
  • Poppy Seeds by East West Foods Wholesale Pty Ltd
  • Royal Fields Poppy Seeds by Basfoods International Pty Ltd

The organization says consumers should not eat these products and should return to the point of purchase for a full refund and safe disposal.

How do you get sick from poppies?

As background, it’s probably helpful to explain that poppy seeds come from the poppy, which is the source of the drug opium.

The plant is also used to make painkillers like morphine and codeine.

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