Updated: Several apricot kernel products recalled in B.C. due to potential for cyanide poisoning

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      Update (March 17):

      The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) added additional items to its list of apricot-kernel products that are being recalled.

      Like the previously listed items, these products, which were sold nationally, are also being recalled due for containing excessive amygdalin which may cause acute cyanide poisoning.

      Wah Yan Tong is recalling the following two products:

      • Bitter Apricot Kernels (150 grams) with UPC 6 28110 69950 3 and date code "Best Before 2021/09/30";
      • Sweet Apricot Kernels (150 grams) with UPC 6 28110 69948 0 and date code "Best Before 2020/12/31".
      Canadian Food Inspection Agency

      Anyone who has these products shouldn't consume them and should instead either dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase.

      No illnesses have yet been reported in associaton with this product.

      For more information about amygdalin and cyanide poisoning, more information is below. 

      Canadian Food Inspection Agency

      Original article (March 15):

      A number of apricot kernel products are being recalled in British Columbia, as well as other provinces in Canada, due to their potential to cause cyanide poisoning.

      Apricot kernels are found in the pits or stones of apricots, look like small almonds, and have an almond flavour. These kernels naturally contain cyanogenic glycosides (primarily amygdalin), which has the potential to release cyanide when ingested.

      Although small amounts of cyanide can be detoxified by the human body, exposure to large amounts over a short duration can cause severe health effects and can result in cyanide poisoning, which could lead to death.

      Health Canada has had only two confirmed cases of acute cyanide poisoning in Canada: one in 2005 and one in 2009.

      The Canadian Food Inspection Agency stated on March 11 that Advantage Health Matters began recalling Organic Traditions brand Dried Bitter Apricot Kernels due to natural toxin amygdalin.

      The recalled product is sold nationally in 227 gram packages with UPC 6 27733 00900 3, and include all lot codes and the following codes:

      • EXP:05/2020 LOT:AHM900190321D
      • EXP:05/2020 LOT:AHM900190417D
      • EXP:05/2020 LOT:L200421135
      • EXP:12/2021

      This product should not be consumed as it contains excessive amygdalin which may cause acute cyanide poisoning. Anyone who has this product should dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase.

      On March 12, the CFIA added more products to its recall list.

      Canadian Food Inspection Agency

      Our Father's Farm's Bitter Apricot Kernels (with UPC 7 18122 91750 1) and Extremely Bitter Apricot Kernels (with UPC 7 18122 91760 0) are being recalled also for excessive amygdalin. Both are sold nationally in 227 gram packages and have “Best Before 01-31-2022” as date codes.

      Canadian Food Inspection Agency

      The following products are also being recalled for containing excessive amygdalin:

      • Apricot Power’s Bitter Raw Apricot Seeds (226.8 grams) with UPC 7 528303 370840 and code EXP0121, sold nationally;
      • Chen-Chen’s Dried Apricot North Almond Seeds (170 grams) with UPC 0 20616 99366 4 and code “Best Before: 10.NOV.2021”, sold in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan;
      • Double Happiness’ Dried Apricot Seed Mix (200 grams) with UPC 6 26430 00016 0 and code “Best before 30/12/2020”, sold in B.C. and Alberta;
      • Earth Notions’ Raw Bitter Apricot Kernels (454 grams) with UPC 6 89076 42028 0 and codes “Best before: April 2020”, “Lot #: AK1803 Best before: April 2021”, and “Lot #: AK1904”, sold nationally through internet sales;
      • Natural Herbs Trading Co.’s Bitter Apricot Kernels (100 grams) without any UPC but with code 3106030, sold in B.C.;
      • Surrey Natural Foods’ Organic Bitter Apricot Kernels sold in varying sizes with UPCs starting with 0 201614 and packing dates up to and including 21-MR-12, sold in B.C.
      Canadian Food Inspection Agency

      Anyone who becomes ill from consuming these products should contact a doctor.

      Symptoms of cyanide poisoning can include weakness and confusion, anxiety, restlessness, headache, nausea, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

      As of the dates that these recall announcements were issued on, no illnesses had been reported in association with the consumption of these products.

      More information about cyanide poisoning from apricot kernels can be found at the Health Canada website.