Breaking News on the Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector

Headlines > Food Safety

News in brief

Poppy seed warning about potential ‘highs’

Post a comment

By Nicholas Robinson+

Last updated on 08-Aug-2014 at 11:45 GMT

Poppy seeds could contain hazardous levels of morphine
Poppy seeds could contain hazardous levels of morphine

Food businesses have been warned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to be cautious when using poppy seeds in products, after scientists discovered potentially hazardous levels of morphine in some food-grade seeds.

The warning follows guidance issued to poppy seed growers by the FSA last month, after “morphine-like” effects were observed in some people after eating poppy seeds. More than 1,000 samples of poppy seeds and bakery items containing poppy seeds were tested by FSA scientists.


Poppy seeds are commonly used in muffins, salads and sprinkled on to bread. They do not naturally contain opium alkaloids, such as morphine, but can be contaminated by compounds in the stalks and seed capsules of the plant, said FSA scientists.

“If poppy seeds are consumed as condiments or decoration in bread and fine bakery ware, it is possible that some consumers, particularly toddlers, will exceed the [recommended daily allowance] for morphine on rare occasions,” they added.

An FSA spokeswoman said there were few reports of adverse affects from the traditional consumption of poppy seeds. But morphine-like effects have been observed in humans following consumption of food containing alkaloid-contaminated poppy seeds.

Because poppy seeds potentially pose a heightened risk of containing opium alkaloids, they are banned in a number of countries around the world.

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.