EFSA updates its risk assessment of opium alkaloids in poppy seeds

22 May 2018

Article: 52/2009

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has updated its risk assessment of opium alkaloids in poppy seeds, confirming many of its previous findings, including the amount of these substances that can be consumed safely. The latest opinion also broadens the evidence that should be considered when calculating the possible risk to consumers.

EFSA’s previous assessment, published in 2011, set a safe level – or acute reference dose (ARfD) – of 10 μg per kilogram (kg) of body weight based on the morphine content of poppy seeds.

The European Commission asked EFSA to update the opinion taking into account new data on the alkaloid content of poppy seeds submitted to EFSA since 2011. The new opinion confirms the safe level of 10 μg/kg of body weight but this time as a ‘group ARfD’ that, in addition to morphine, takes codeine content into account when calculating dietary exposure. This is because the new data show that in some poppy seed samples on the European market, the concentration of codeine can be higher than that of morphine.

Source: EFSA, 16 May 2018