As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. In this case, curiosity could’ve killed a man. Matthew Creme of Lancanshire was munching down on some cherries when he came up with what he thought was a capital idea. The cherry pits started to look awfully appetizing for some reason, so he decided to crack three of them open and eat the insides. That proved to be a poor choice.
As the BBC shares, Creme felt incredibly ill soon thereafter and called emergency services. The operator informed him that what he had just eaten could prove to be fatal. He was rushed to the hospital to receive an antidote, and he was thankfully able to recover. So what happened?
“The pits and seeds of many fruits contain amygdalin — a plant compound that your body converts to cyanide after eating. Symptoms of cyanide exposure include dizziness, headache, nausea, a rapid heart rate and convulsions,” Today shares. “Amygdalin stays safely in the pit — unless you crack it open and eat the substance inside, like Creme did. The flesh of the fruit contains very little of the compound.”
As Creme explains it, he had no idea that was the case, and he’s calling for changes as a result.
“If something was that severe you’d think it’d be on the packaging,” he said. “It was just curiosity and you know what they say about curiosity. [The seed] tasted similar to an almond but with a cherry flavour to it – I didn’t think nothing of it, just thought it was a seed, so I ate it and continued to eat more of it.”
An FSA spokeswoman offered up some more details for consumers to keep in mind.
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“Some non-edible parts of fruits, such as cherry seeds, contain cyanide and are not intended to be consumed,” she said. “Some edible products, such as alcoholic beverages made from stone fruits, and canned stone fruits can also contain a low level of cyanide. However, this is regulated to ensure these products are safe for consumption.”
Isabel Maples, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, warns against the man’s illness causing some sort of a panic in regards to cherries and other pitted fruits.
“If you’re worried about the danger of eating fruit because of cyanide, I would say not to be worried about that. There’s more danger to more people in not eating enough fruit,” she said. “The vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants would still be a lot better for us than worrying about the danger of the seeds.”
All makes sense, and Creme makes a fair point. While it may seem odd to be digging into something that doesn’t seem that appealing, it’s a good idea to have some kind of warning label on packages to make consumers aware of the dangers. There could be some other curious folks out there that are also unaware of the dangers, so a simple label could prevent an unnecessary tragedy from happening.