Rogers Family Applauds Request Ending Sale Of Unwashed Poppy Seeds

ROGERS (KFSM) -- A mother and father who lost their son to a morphine intoxication are applauding a move by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to request several online retailers stop the sale of unwashed poppy seeds.

More than two years after Stephen Hacala's death, Steve and Betty Hacala have continued their war against his cause of death.

The medical examiner found the presence of thebaine, an alkaloid opiate, in Stephen Hacala's blood system that tied the morphine to poppy seeds found in Stephen Hacala's apartment.

"Through our research, we believe that these unwashed poppy seeds are just an underreported part of this overall opioid epidemic that we hear about," Steve Hacala said.

The difference between both washed and unwashed poppy seeds can be a matter of life and death.

Washed poppy seeds are safe and can be found in muffins and on bagels. But when left unwashed, the seeds can still contain their opium latex, consisting of morphine and codeine, in which they're grown.

A five pound bag can contain as much as 6,000 milligrams of morphine; about 30 times the lethal limit of 200 milligrams.

"If we can save one life from having to go through this terrible experience that we've gone through, that is our mission," Betty Hacala said.

And it's a mission the couple has remained laser-focused on.

In April, the two met with lawmakers and federal drug administrators in Washington, D.C. Senator Tom cotton has also mentioned their story on the floor of the United States Senate.

Back in Arkansas, the continued sale of unwashed poppy seeds prompted Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to send a letter Friday (July 13) to online retailers including Amazon, eBay and Etsy asking them to pull the product.

Walmart recently agreed to discontinue sales of unwashed poppy seeds.

"I guarantee you today, if you found a peanut that was coated with fentanyl or opium latex or morphine, they'd be recalled tomorrow," Steve Hacala said.

The Hacalas still aren't sure if their son bought the seeds to get high, but they're working to make sure others are aware of the dangers.

"We don't want that to happen to them and if we just stood idly by and did nothing, how could we live with ourselves."