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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 17 May 2022

Apricot kernels are sold as a superfood, but health watchdogs say they could poison you

The kernels of the fruit are often touted as having a powerful anti-cancer agent and are sold as “superfoods”.

Image: Shutterstock/Artur Synenko

THE FOOD SAFETY Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has warned consumers that apricot kernels could give them cyanide poisoning.

The kernels of the fruit are often touted as having a powerful anti-cancer agent and are sold as “superfoods”.

However, the FSAI says that far from curing cancer, eating more than one or two of either bitter or sweet kernels could lead to cyanide poisoning.

They say that while the products are legal, that is under review.

Apricot kernels contain the naturally occurring plant toxin amygdalin, which converts to cyanide after eating. Cyanide poisoning can cause nausea, fever, headaches, insomnia, thirst, lethargy, nervousness, joint and muscle aches and pains, and falling blood pressure. In extreme cases, it is fatal.

The FSAI is also advising that bitter almonds are also to be avoided, as they can contain the same toxic chemical.

A statement from the authority says that the warning is being issued again in light of new evidence.

“Its warning today is in light of a recently published scientific evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority which confirms the health risk associated with these kernels.”

Food businesses who may be selling these products have been told they should label them with appropriate warnings to protect consumers. The labelling should state that children should not eat apricot kernels.

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