Food Law News - UK - 2006

FSA Press Release (2006/0647), 11 April 2006

CONTAMINANTS - FSA alerts consumers about possible risk from eating bitter apricot kernels

The Food Standards Agency is today warning consumers of the possible risk to health from excess consumption of bitter apricot kernels and is issuing advice on safe levels of use.

The Agency's scientific committee, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), expressed concern that, when ingested, bitter apricot kernels can produce cyanide. The COT therefore considered a safe intake is equivalent to one to two kernels a day.

The FSA asked the COT to review the safety of this product at its meeting on 28 March 2006 following information provided by Buckinghamshire Trading Standards about bitter apricot kernels on sale in a local Julian Graves store. The paper discussed at the COT meeting is available on the FSA web site.

The dosage sheet accompanying the product indicated that consumers could take a maximum of 10 kernels a day, five times the limit recommended by the COT. Julian Graves voluntarily withdrew this product from sale in its UK stores.

The FSA is concerned that other retail and internet outlets may be selling the kernels and not providing accurate advice about maximum intake.

The Agency is investigating other outlets and will also discuss possible EU action to protect consumers at a meeting with the European Commission and other member states on 21 April 2006 .

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