Health for humans, animals & plants

Hydrogen cyanide in food

Final Report of Priority Action A-050-19

The objective of the focus action was to determine the content of prussic acid in apricot kernels, bitter almonds, stone fruit preserves, white nougat, marzipan, persipan and similar products. The results are used to verify the safety of the goods as well as compliance with the legal limits and to collect representative data on prussic acid exposure from food.

43 samples from all over Austria were examined. 4 samples were objected to:

  • three samples (apricot kernels) were harmful to health due to the prussic acid content
  • one sample (apricot kernels) showed a limit value exceeding the permissible prussic acid content.

All marzipan and persipan samples tested complied with the legal requirements. In recent years, bitter stone fruit kernels and bitter almonds have increasingly been offered for direct consumption in food packaging of various sizes. Stone fruit kernels and bitter almonds have a natural content of prussic acid in glycosidically bound form. Marzipan and persipan, which are made from almonds and bitter almonds, also contribute to prussic acid intake. During consumption and digestion, prussic acid is split off.

Last updated: 18.07.2022

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