FSAI advises against eating apricot kernels due to cyanide risk

There are no legal restrictions on the sale of these kernels

Apricot kernels, FSAI, warning, food, risk, cyanide, bitter, sweet, plant toxin

Apricots are offered in a market | Image: Christof Stache / AP/Press Association Images

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is advising consumers not to eat apricot kernels, as this can lead to a risk of cyanide poisoning.

It says that raw, unprocessed apricot kernels - as well as the powdered form - should be avoided.

The FSAI also stresses that children should not eat these products.

While it says adults who do decide to continue to eat them should not exceed more that 1-2 apricot kernels per day.

It says this advice relates to both bitter and sweet versions.

The FSAI says there are presently no legal restrictions on the sale of apricot kernels, but this is under review by the European Commission.

"In the meantime, food businesses who may be selling these products should label them with appropriate warnings to protect consumers", the FSAI adds.

"The labelling should state that children should not eat these apricot kernels and adults should eat no more than 1-2 small kernels per day, due to the risk of cyanide poisoning".

The FSAI has previously advised of the dangers of eating apricot kernels.

While this latest warning is after a recently published scientific evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority, which confirms the health risk associated with these kernels.

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 should be avoided, as they can contain the same chemical.