Poppy poisoning: Melbourne man describes ordeal, product recall

A Melbourne musician has described the horrifying moment he thought he was going to die after eating a toxic load of poppy seeds.

Andy Jordan is one of 32 Australian adults hospitalized in the last month.

He has been mixing poppy seeds in a drink – similar to brewed tea – for two years to help with stomach problems and said he’s never had any reaction to the drink.

“I drank the poppies in the morning, about five minutes later my eyes closed, it felt like strychnine poisoning,” he said.

“My muscles started to cramp, I knew I was in trouble.”

His brother called Triple-0 three times but said there was no answer and the line had timed out.

“I was convulsing, every muscle was spasming in my chest, in my back, it felt like my kidneys were being crushed to death and it was crazy around my heart,” he said.

“It felt like a chemical weapon had been mixed up in the bag.”

Fearing the worst and his condition deteriorating, Mr. Jordan’s roommate offered to drive him to the hospital.

“I thought I would probably die in ten minutes,” he said.

“It didn’t feel like any opioid I’ve ever used in the hospital.

β€œIt was the worst feeling imaginable. It was like torture.”

Mr. Jordan was incredibly fortunate that Austin Hospital’s toxicologist was an expert in this type of poisoning and recognized the symptoms immediately.

“The second he saw me, he knew what had happened,” he said.

“I was injected with muscle relaxants to try to get my muscles to stop spasm and strangle me.”

The poppy seeds involved in the poisoning chain are now part of a national recall.

The non-edible seeds contain high levels of the alkaloid thebaine β€” commonly used to make morphine and codeine β€” and are unsafe for human consumption.

With this accumulation of poisoning, high concentrations of thebaine were found in the blood of those affected.

Investigations are underway to determine how the non-edible seeds got into stores.

Symptoms of poppy poisoning include seizures, severe muscle pain and spasms, convulsions, stiffness or abnormal movements, and acute kidney injury.

Which poppy brands have been recalled?

Food Standards Australia New Zealand announced a recall of five brands sold at Woolworths, Coles, IGA, online and other independent retailers.

  • Eumarah Mohn
  • Hoyt’s poppy
  • Gaganis Premium Australian Poppy
  • Poppy Seeds by East West Foods Wholesale Pty Ltd
  • Royal Fields Poppy Seeds by Basfoods International Pty Ltd.

The organization says consumers should return the seeds to the place of purchase for a full refund and safe disposal.

Originally posted when a Melbourne man thought he was dying after accidental poppy poisoning

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