Attorney General Announces Two Retailers Remove Unwashed Poppy Seeds From Websites

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The Hacala family, including son Stephen, who died from morphine intoxication caused by unwashed poppy seeds.

LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Friday that two more retailers have banned the online sale of unwashed poppy seeds on their websites.

Bonanza and eBay joined Walmart in removing sales of unwashed poppy seeds. According to a release from Rutledge’s office, the two retailers removed sale of the seeds from their website in response to a letter she sent July 13 requesting their removal. Walmart had previously removed the seeds from their store shelves.

Rutledge said she issued a consumer alert in May warning of the dangers of unwashed poppy seeds after hearing the story of Steve and Betty Hacala, whose son Stephen died from morphine intoxication after consuming tea made from the seeds.

In April, 5NEWS spoke with the Hacalas, of Rogers, about their son’s death and their quest to have the unwashed poppy seeds banned. The pair later said they applauded Rutledge’s attempts to ban the seeds.

“It is my duty as Attorney General to protect consumers from identified harmful products like unwashed poppy seeds,” Rutledge said in the press release Friday. “The accessibility of lethal, unwashed poppy seeds for Arkansans is deeply concerning and is why I will continue to educate and work with companies nationwide to demand these products are removed from the shelves and banned from sale on websites.

“I am pleased that Walmart, eBay and Bonanza have acted quickly to ban the sale of these dangerous products. I am hopeful that Amazon, Etsy and other retailers will take action soon.”

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

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