FSANZ recall warning: Raw apricot kernels and cyanide fear

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 7th November 2011

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon today warned consumers against eating raw apricot kernels following the discovery of high levels of a naturally occurring toxin in some products available in Australia.

There are different types of apricot kernels, some of which contain high levels of the toxin that can release cyanide into the body when eaten.

According to FSANZ, adults eating as few as four of these kernels a day could become very ill – children should not eat any.

Testing of a number of raw apricot kernels by state and territory health authorities found apricot kernels contained high levels of the toxin that can release hydrocyanic acid, a cyanide compound, in the gut.

Mr McCutcheon said that these products are currently being investigated and a recall of ChiTree Apricot Kernels is occurring. The products, packaged in 1kg vacuum-sealed clear plastic bags, have been sold nationally on-line and at some health food stores.

“While some raw apricot kernels are promoted as an alternative therapy for cancer treatment,” Mr McCutcheon said, “the Cancer Council of Australia has published a position statement that cautions consumers about using alternative therapies, including laetrile (apricot kernels).”

FSANZ advised those who have recently purchased the recalled raw apricot kernels to return the product to ChiTree for a refund or dispose of it safely out of the reach of children and pets.

A statement posted on the ChiTree website said, “It is our understanding that a customer presented to hospital with adverse reactions after ingesting a large quantity of apricot kernels and this is why ChiTree is the present focus of this action. It has always been our assumption that our customers, having made the purchase, are educated about apricot kernels and their many applications. Aware of TGA regulations, we have never made claims about or recommendations for consumption.”