Apricot kernels and fruit seeds
Find out about the ban on the sale of apricot kernels, and why some fruit seeds and pips should not be eaten.
Sale of raw apricot kernels prohibited
Eating some fruit seeds and kernels can be dangerous. In particular, apricot kernels should not be consumed. Until January 2016, apricot kernels were available for sale in New Zealand as a separate product from fresh apricots. But from 14 January 2016, the retail sale of raw apricot kernels to consumers in New Zealand was banned.
This change was made to the Food Standards Code because Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) did a risk assessment and found raw apricot kernels pose an acute public health and safety risk.
The ban doesn't apply to apricot kernels used as ingredients in food for sale, as long as the final product is safe.
Find out more
The FSANZ website has more information about the ban and the change to the Food Standards Code:
- Consumer advice about the risk of eating apricot kernels
- Proposal P1016 - hydrocyanic acid in apricot kernels and other foods
- Combined survey and risk assessment for cyanogenic glycosides
Eating some fruit seeds and pits dangerous
The chemical amygdalin occurs naturally in apricot and peach kernels and the seeds of apples and pears. When eaten, amygdalin can react with stomach enzymes and release hydrogen cyanide in the gut, which is toxic and can make you sick.
You should avoid eating fruit seeds and pips, but accidentally eating the occasional one is not generally a problem. Young children can get sick from swallowing just a few pips or seeds and in rare cases this can be fatal.
Raw apricot kernels can make you sick
Eating raw apricot kernels can cause discomfort, illness and can even be fatal. Fresh apricots with the stone inside can still be sold but the kernels cannot be sold separately.
Apricot kernels are still safe to eat in processed products, like amaretti biscuits, because the baking process reduces the level of amygdalin.