Dominika GIL, Wojciech LECHOWICZ
Institute of Forensic Research, Kraków, Poland

Poppy seeds are obtained from different varieties of Papaver somniferum L. Those with low morphine content are used in bakery products, cake and dessert fillings, and dish toppings. This plant contains a few opiate alkaloids, morphine being the predominant one. The total alkaloid content of the poppy plant depends on various factors such as the variety, soil conditions, weather, etc., and also differs among plant parts. Straw, especially the upper part, contains relatively high amounts – up to more than 0.6% – but seeds from the poppy capsule contain none or very low amounts. Some researchers claim that the presence of alkaloids in poppy seeds is the result of insect damage, or poor harvesting practices. These can be reasons for high morphine concentration in finished food products, which can lead to positive results in human drug testing. The aim of the present research was to determine the concentration of the two most important alkaloids in food products containing poppy seeds, and in commercially available poppy seeds for kitchen use. In the case of yeast-cakes with poppy filling, the morphine content was 25−29 mg/kg, which is a relatively high concentration, when you take into account their preparation (cooking and baking). In other products, the concentrations were similar: poppy seed cake: 17−21 mg/kg, and in commercially available ready-made fillings: 7−38 mg/kg. Poppy seeds imported from the Czechia contained very high morphine levels: 145−310 mg/kg, compared to those produced in Hungary (14−26 mg/kg). There are currently no EU regulations relating to alkaloids in poppy seeds used in food, although Hungary has a national maximum level of 30 mg/kg for morphine. Such levels were found in our study. On the other hand, the high concentration of morphine in poppy seeds from the Czechia can lead to an increase in the level of this alkaloid in final products, and thus to detectable amounts of free morphine in blood or urine, which are sufficient to interfere with drug abuse tests for drivers or workers.

Słowa kluczowe
Morphine; Poppy; Food products.

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