Outcry erupts in Egypt over imported chocolate containing poppy

Outcry erupts in Egypt over imported chocolate containing poppy
After a former university president publicly warned against imported chocolate brands that contain poppy, an MP demanded an immediate investigation into the subject to discuss if they are addictive.
2 min read
Egypt - Cairo
05 April, 2022
A psychiatrist ruled out that the percentage of opium in the chocolate in question could lead to addiction. [Getty]

An Egyptian member of parliament called on Ali Moselhi, the minister of supply and internal trade, on Tuesday to launch an immediate investigation into brands of imported chocolate available in the market that reportedly contain poppy.

In her motion addressed to parliament speaker Hanafi El-Gebali, MP Amal Abdel-Hamid said that the brands in question were being sold to adults and children alike, and alleged the poppy used may cause them to be addicted, local privately-owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on its news portal.

The outcry began on Monday after a former president of Cairo University Gaber Nassar posted on his Facebook page that he personally knew a number of people, whose jobs required them to take an unplanned drug test, had tested positive for opium, "even though they were not even smokers."

"These people hold sensitive positions….and they may lose their jobs because of this," he wrote.

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"By coincidence, I discovered that in major markets…there are chocolate brands that include a considerable amount of poppy, which is legal in the US and in most European countries, but having them [in Egypt] is considered a crime," Nassar added.

It should be noted that poppy seeds are commonly used in dessert and cooking, while a particularly variety of the poppy plant is used to make opium. Eating poppy seeds commonly does induce false-positive results for opium during drug tests up to 60 hours after consumption. 

Meanwhile, Al-Masry Al-Youm, citing an unnamed security source, also reported on Monday that samples had been collected for testing of the chocolate.   

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Nevertheless, a source inside the state-run "Addiction Treatment and Drug Abuse Fund" told The New Arab, on condition of anonymity for security reasons that "out of about 140,000 addicts supported by our organisation, not one case of addiction based off this food has ever been witnessed."

In a screenshot taken of one of the chocolate brands that Nassar posted, it is written that the amount of poppy it contains is 2.3%, while alleging that this is highly addictive.   

"This percentage is very unlikely to cause addiction unless the person consumes a specific version and a huge amount," Dr Mohamed Zohdy, a psychiatrist specialised in treating drug addiction, told The New Arab.