UK supplier creates low morphine poppy seed blend after drug test alarm

By David Anderson

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/YelenaYemchuk
© iStock/YelenaYemchuk
A UK-based specialist ingredient maker has launched a poppy seed blend which contains low morphine content, amid a number of recent cases in which individuals have failed drug tests after eating poppy seeds.

London-based ingredients company FDL is hoping its Low Morphine Poppy Blend will prove a big hit with the UK’s major bread companies, which includes Associated British Foods-owned Allied Bakeries and Warburtons.

Speaking to FoodNavigator, doctor Gareth Elwin, a divisional director with FDL, said the rise in the number of people testing positive for heroine after eating poppy seeds was presenting a problem for bread companies

“For the baking companies, they have been concerned about this for a while because it has the potential to have a negative impact on their brand image,​” he told us.

The issue was bought to light when veteran TV presenter Angela Rippon, 72, tested positive for opiates after eating poppy seeds in a loaf of bread.

Her test result picked up the presence of morphine, derived from opium, and was broadcast in her BBC One show Rip Off Britain last week.

The show pointed out that drug tests are becoming more common in work environments where employees drive, operate machinery or involve public safety.

Elwin said one of the big bread companies has inked a deal with FDL to now begin selling its low-morphine poppy blend.

Profit margins at the major bread makers are under pressure from intense competition in the market and have been hit by retailers buying alternative cheaper bread.

But Elwin warned against bread companies looking to source cheap ingredients.

He said the negative publicity around the failed drug tests “should not be used as a reason to reduce or remove this popular seed in bakery products but should force the UK bakery industry to reassess their cheapest is best sourcing policy”.

FDL says its new blend has engineered the morphine content down by blending together low morphine seeds, which are usually growing in Eastern Europe, and the UK cheaper higher morphine content seed.

Elwin says its new blend has residual morphine levels below 20 parts per million- considerable below the level which would show up in a drugs test- compared to the 900 parts per million of rival UK poppy seeds.

FDL provides tailored ingredients for the food, drinks and fragrances sector and has offices in England, the US, India and China.

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