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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

FDA Poisonous Plant Database

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AUTHOR(S): Krieger, R. I.
TITLE: Cyanophoric plants.
YEAR: 1976 CITATION: Toxicol Newsletter, 2(5), 2 [English]
FDA #: F08093
ABSTRACT: Complete article: "Apricot kernels, widely available in health food stores and promoted as nutritional and medicinal products, have been associated recently with cyanide poisoning in California. Controversy results from many food faddists who deny the potential toxicity of fruit stone kernels. The toxicity of peach kernels was recorded over 4,000 years ago in the Eber's Papyrus. Today amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside, is recognized as the poisonous principle of both peach and apricot kernels. Hydrolysis of cyanogenic glycosides releases HCN. One of the recent cases involved a 56-year-old woman who ate a 'handful' of apricot kernels and required hospital admission and overnight observation (California Morbidity, 512, Dec. 26, 1975). In a second instance, a 34-year-old man purchased a one pound package of apricot kernels. He used a portion to make two milkshakes. The man's wife consumed only a small amount of her milk shake because she didn't like the taste. The man drank his milk shake plus the remainder of his wife's. His total consumptionof kernels was about 48. After one hour the husband developed forceful vomiting, perspiration, dizziness and faintness. Both were Ipecaced at a local emergency room, and the husband's symptoms rapidly subsided. The woman remained asymptomatic throughout (California Morbidity, 45, November 14, 1975). The hazardousness of ingestion of apricot kernels is usually not known to either retailers or consumers. Warning labelling and technical product information should both be required. A study of the potential toxicity of apricot kernels is in progress to permit more complete assessment of risk. The study will include case reports and analysis for total cyanide of prepared foods containing apricot kernels. References to case histories and to methods of preparation of apricot kernels (and other cyanogens including peach kernel, plum kernel, apple seed, etc.) would greatly facilitate this work. Send to: Dr. Robert I. Krieger, Dapartment of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, California 95616.
GRIN #: 29841 Exit Disclaimer
COMMON NAME: apricot
STANDARD PLANT NAMEPrunus armeniaca L.