Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today [17 April 2014] released findings showing that eating raw apricot kernels could pose a public health and safety risk to consumers.

FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon said FSANZ and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries had looked at a range of foods that naturally contain a chemical that can be broken down after eating to release cyanide.

‘Cyanogenic glycosides are found in a range of foods including cassava root, linseed, bamboo shoots and apricot kernels,’ Mr McCutcheon said.

‘After testing these foods and conducting a risk assessment, FSANZ found only raw apricot kernels can pose a health and safety risk and may require further action.’

‘FSANZ has issued advice previously on raw apricot kernels and continues to advise consumers about the amounts they should consume.’

‘Adults should eat no more than three raw apricot kernels per day and children should not eat any.’

‘No other apricot products, including those made with apricot kernels, present a risk.’

Mr McCutcheon said some consumers eat apricot kernels in the belief they can cure or prevent cancer but Cancer Council Australia states that they are not only ineffective at treating cancer but could also be very dangerous.

‘While we are providing consumer advice and education, FSANZ is also working on a proposal looking at how to manage the risk of cyanogenic glycosides in raw apricot kernels.’

A call for submissions on the proposal is expected to be released mid-2014.