Target: John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods
Goal: Stop the sale of toxic apricot kernels and warn consumers of their dangers.
Apricot kernels are contained within the seed of an apricot and closely resemble almonds. Their small size and familiar appearance make it easy to mistake them as healthy snacks, an impression encouraged by their colorful packaging by Whole Foods. However, the kernels contain amygdalin, also misleadingly called vitamin-B17, which, when ingested, is converted to cyanide in the body.
The symptoms of cyanide poisoning include nausea, headaches, fever, lethargy, thirst, and a drop in blood pressure, and can become fatal if untreated. Experts say that just one apricot kernel contains enough amygdalin to be considered toxic to a toddler, while three kernels puts most adults over safe levels.
Despite the common name vitamin-B17, amygdalin can’t be called a vitamin because it isn’t something that the human body needs, and trace amounts can quickly build and cause cyanide poisoning. There are two varieties of cultivated apricot kernels: bitter and sweet. According to a study published in the African Journal of Biotechnology, the bitter kernels generally contain about five percent amygdalin and sweet kernels contain 0.9 percent amygdalin. These values correspond to 1.8 and 0.3 mg of cyanide respectively. Even the sweetest kernels are considered toxic enough that they are entirely banned in Australia.
Currently, Whole Foods sells bags of apricot kernels, advertised as “organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free, kosher.” This attractive packaging only contains a small warning about the dangers of overeating and warns that this product is not intended for children. However, these minimal safety measures do nothing to ensure that the consumer will eat the kernels responsibly or that children or pets will not eat what they shouldn’t.
For decades, alternative medicine groups have claimed that amygdalin has powerful cancer-fighting properties. This misconception stems from the belief that when consumed, amygdalin will be converted to cyanide within tumors, killing them from the inside. However, it has been proven that the conversion occurs in the stomach and the cyanide spreads throughout the body, causing widespread poisoning. The FDA and agencies in other nations have already banned the advertising and use of amygdalin products as anti-cancer drugs due to their danger.
However, health food stores such as Whole Foods continue to sell apricot kernels, advertising their supposed health benefits. While this is legal as long as the store doesn’t attempt to sell the kernels as cancer remedies, it is unsafe and irresponsible. Tell the CEO of Whole Foods that the sale of toxic apricot kernels is unacceptable.
Dear Mr. Mackey,
Apricot kernels contain amygdalin, a compound known misleadingly as vitamin-B17 that causes cyanide poisoning when ingested. Amygdalin has zero known health benefits and reports of its cancer-fighting properties have been proven completely false.
Only a few kernels are enough for an adult to feel the symptoms of cyanide poisoning, and less than that can be lethal to children and pets. However, despite multiple reports over the past few decades of people being hospitalized due to cyanide poisoning after consuming apricot kernels, Whole Foods continues to sell this toxic product.
Whole Foods must ban the sale of this toxic and dangerous product and warn its customers of the danger of consuming apricot kernels before more people are hurt.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: David Avoura King