Poppy Seed Poisoning: NSW Health investigates 8 hospitalizations

NSW Health warns people about the dangers of consuming large quantities of poppy seeds after at least eight people in NSW show up at the hospital with severe poisoning immediately after ingestion.

Early investigations have suggested that high levels of a naturally occurring chemical in raw poppy seeds may be a factor that must be well cooked to be destroyed.

There have been no cases of poisoning in people who ate poppy seeds as part of a baked food product.

Symptoms of poisoning were only observed when people purposely consumed poppy seeds as a drink.

Symptoms reported can be severe, including:

  • convulsions
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe muscle spasm, cramps, stiffness, or abnormal movements.

NSW Poisons Information Center medical director Darren Roberts said consuming large amounts of this chemical in poppy seeds can be dangerous.

“We are urging anyone who has drunk large amounts of poppy seeds, for example as a beverage, and who exhibits unusual and severe symptoms to seek immediate medical attention by visiting the nearest emergency room,” said Roberts.

Anyone showing symptoms is encouraged to call triple 0 for emergency assistance.

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

The NSW Poisons Information Center can be contacted 24/7 at 13 11 26 and can provide more information on poisons and what to do in suspected cases of poppy seed poisoning.

Originally published as poppy seed poisoning, poisoning cases increase as NSW Health investigates