With the arrival of winter time, many would choose to prepare soups and drinks made with bitter apricot seeds as nourishment, but do you know that bitter apricot seeds which have not been cooked thoroughly in boiling water may contain natural toxins which would cause food poisoning or even death in severe cases?
Raw bitter apricot seeds contain a natural toxin called cyanogenic glycoside which is commonly present in the seeds of fruits. When the consumer chews the fresh seeds or stone of a fruit, the cyanogenic glycoside in it can be transformed into hydrogen cyanide, which is poisonous to the consumer. Swallowing only a few seeds/stone may cause cyanide poisoning. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning occur within a few minutes and may include constriction of the throat, nausea, vomiting, headache, etc., and death has been reported in severe cases. There has been recent report of food poisoning case following consumption of drinks made from bitter apricot seeds without being cooked.
Members of the public are advised to soak bitter apricot seeds in water and then cook them thoroughly in boiling water before consumption and when using them to prepare drinks. Cooking bitter apricot seeds thoroughly in boiling water can release the toxic hydrogen cyanide. In this way, the level of the toxin can be reduced making them safe for consumption.
Furthermore, seeds of fruits such as apples, pears, plums, prunes, cherries, peaches also contain cyanogenic glycoside and they should not be consumed.
- Risk in Brief - Naturally Occurring Toxins in Vegetables and Fruits
- Food Safety Focus - Toxins in Our Fruits and Vegetables? (88th Issue, November 2013)
- Food Safety Focus - Natural Toxins in Food Plants (13th Issue, August 2007)
- Risk Assessment Study - Natural Toxins in Food Plants (March 2007)