Visiting the inconvenience store near work the other day, I spied these interesting-looking snacks called Piranha Vege Crackers and thought I’d give them a try. They were nothing spectacular. Or so I thought.
The next day, I noticed a small news article noting that the manufacturer had recalled the chips because they contained “unusually high levels of naturally occurring compounds that could cause an adverse reaction”. I should be particularly worried if I was a small child or had eaten the product in moderate to large amounts.
I had only eaten one pack and am not a small child in most regards, and also I was still alive. So I wasn’t worried, except by the lack of information. The NSW Food Authority’s warning notice wasn’t any more helpful than the article. I emailed the Food Authority and they wrote back this afternoon.
This follows findings in a batch of exported vegetable crackers of higher than allowed legal levels of a naturally occurring cyanide compound in the ingredient cassava. Cyanogenic glycosides are naturally present in cassava (a tropical root crop) and can be converted to hydrogen cyanide when ingested, which can be harmful. It is believed this ingredient is the likely source of the contamination. Symptoms of a mild reaction include dizziness, weakness, anxiety, a rapid pulse rate, nausea and vomiting and occur very shortly after eating.
And if you had a severe reaction? Queensland Health was more forthcoming:
“In severe cases mental confusion and twitching and convulsions,” Queensland Health population health senior director Linda Selvey told AAP.
“People who eat cassava prepare it in such a way that the compounds break down before you actually eat them and it would appear in this case that it hasn’t been prepared in such a way.”
Apparently washing it in water does the trick.
I always knew health food was bad for you, but this is ridiculous . . .