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Case of raw bitter apricot seed poisoning under CHP investigation

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (December 1) investigating a case of raw bitter apricot seed poisoning affecting a 26-year-old man, and hence reminded members of the public not to consume raw bitter apricot seeds.

     The patient developed abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness and headache about two hours after consuming a self-prepared drink containing raw bitter apricot seeds at home yesterday (November 30). He sought medical attention at the Accident and Emergency Department of Yan Chai Hospital yesterday and was admitted today for further management. He is now in stable condition and was discharged today.

     Investigations are proceeding.

     "Raw bitter apricot seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides. Cyanogenic plant products such as bitter apricot seeds can cause poisoning when eaten raw and in sufficient amounts, but are safe for consumption when thoroughly cooked in boiling water, such as in Chinese soups," a spokesman for the CHP explained.

     "The public should avoid consuming raw bitter apricot seeds in order to prevent poisoning. If symptoms of poisoning develop, they should immediately consult medical professionals for advice and prompt treatment," the spokesman said.

     He appealed to people to observe the following measures when consuming cyanogenic plant products:

* soak bitter apricot and cook it thoroughly in boiling water (e.g. soup) for a longer period to remove the cyanogenic glycosides; and
* limit intake when other cooking methods, such as dry-heating or using little water, are used.

Ends/Monday, December 1, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:41


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