Rutledge Praises FDA for Action Against Unwashed Poppy Seeds
Says, ‘This is an important first step to protecting consumers from reckless business practices’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the statement below following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) issuance of a warning letter to one online poppy seed seller.
“I am pleased the FDA is taking steps to protect consumers from the hidden dangers of unwashed poppy seeds,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Its letter identifies one company’s continued claims that unwashed poppy seeds provide similar benefits to pharmaceutical drugs, without any approval from the FDA, which is a violation of the law. This is an important first step to protecting consumers from reckless business practices, by addressing a company that markets washed, unwashed and unprocessed poppy seeds for medicinal uses not approved by the FDA.”
Earlier this month, Rutledge sent a letter to the FDA requesting clear label standards for unwashed poppy seeds. In early July, Rutledge sent a letter to a number of online retailers requesting the removal of unwashed poppy seeds from online products, and a couple of weeks later Bonanza, eBay and Etsy removed labeled unwashed poppy seeds from their online catalogs. Walmart had previously removed its supply. Earlier this year, Attorney General Rutledge released an Attorney General Alert warning consumers of the dangers of unwashed poppy seeds after meeting with the Hacalas to hear the tragic story of their son, Stephen, who died from morphine intoxication after consuming so-called poppy seed tea made from unwashed poppy seeds.
Dr. Stephen Erickson, a Forensic Pathologist at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, partnered with forensic toxicologist Dr. Madeline Swartwood, to conduct a study that found that one particular bag of unwashed poppy seeds contained enough morphine to nearly fill a bottle of 100, 30-milligram morphine pills – an amount comparable to what is prescribed to a palliative bone cancer patient.