The sale of raw apricot kernels is prohibited under the Food Standards Code. This is because they contain cyanogenic glycosides that can convert to a type of cyanide when eaten.
There have been reports of cyanide poisoning from eating raw apricot kernels in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe. In 2011 a person in Queensland was hospitalised after eating raw apricot kernels with high levels of cyanide. At the time, FSANZ warned consumers not to consume raw apricot kernels. Another consumer was hospitalised after eating raw apricot kernels in Western Australia in 2014.
FSANZ conducted a risk assessment on a number of foods containing cyanogenic glycosides and found only raw apricot kernels (both with and without skin) pose an acute public health and safety risk.
Changes to the Code to prohibit the sale of raw apricot kernels were made in 2015.
Read the media release on the prohibition on the sale of raw apricot kernels and documents prepared by FSANZ relating to the decision.
Raw apricot kernels – with skin on
Cancer Council advice
Some raw apricot kernels are promoted as an alternative therapy for cancer treatment. However, the Cancer Council of Australia states that they are not only ineffective at treating cancer but can be very dangerous.