What are common household poisons

Be careful with natural pollutants in plant-based foods

Results of food tests repeatedly show increased morphine levels in poppy seeds. The lowest therapeutic single dose for oral ingestion of morphine (1.9 mg) is already achieved at the usual consumption levels.

Morphine belongs to the group of opiates. It is a prescription pain reliever and is also used for symptomatic therapy for shortness of breath and anxiety. The undesirable side effects are varied and can be serious, such as psychological and physical dependence. An overdose leads to respiratory depression, loss of consciousness and respiratory failure.

Poppy seeds are the ripe seeds of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.). In the food sector, they are mainly used for the production of baked goods and edible oil. Opium alkaloids (such as morphine, codeine, thebaine, orpavine, noscapine, papaverine) can be obtained from the same plants.

It is assumed that the increased morphine content in poppy seeds is related to the mechanical harvesting techniques in which the capsule is squeezed and the poppy seeds are contaminated with alkaloid-containing capsule fragments and the milk juice.

In order to lower the morphine content, manufacturers are called upon to make every effort to reduce the content of all pharmacologically active opium alkaloids in poppy seeds to the technologically achievable minimum. Slightly heated or completely unprocessed poppy seeds are problematic.

Until the production conditions for poppy seeds have been successfully converted, excessive consumption of foods with a high content of poppy seeds, especially during pregnancy, is not recommended.

The morphine content can be reduced primarily through heat treatment. The opiates are largely broken down during baking, so poppy seed rolls or cakes should pose practically no danger. The morphine can be largely removed by briefly washing or rinsing the poppy seeds with at least 60 degrees Celsius hot water and then drying. In addition, by removing rancid poppy seed oils from the surface, the smell and taste are significantly improved.


As soon as poppy seeds are washed or heated, the morphine content is significantly reduced. However, poppy seeds should not be consumed during pregnancy.

Phytic acid in whole grain cereals and oilseeds