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Tobacco leaves are not a foodstuff - they don't belong on the list of ingredients for recipes!

05/2002, 25.02.2002

The creativity of chefs reaches its limits when it jeopardises the health of consumers

BgVV urgently warns against using tobacco leaves in the preparation of food because this may be associated with an acute risk of poisoning. This warning has been prompted by the publication of a recipe by a "star chef" entitled "Smoking prohibited" in a major German Sunday newspaper. The recipe for a three-course menu for four people recommends using large amounts of tobacco leaves for each course. The consumption of food of that kind can be life-threatening. In the most unfavourable scenario, the amount of nicotine contained in the meal will be a multiple of the lethal dose for adults by means of oral intake. Foods prepared using the recipes given there are liable to damage health. If they are prepared for third parties, they constitute a violation of the Foods and Other Commodities Act.

For the preparation of the three-course menu the recipe envisages the extraction of 21 g tobacco leaves and the use of another 14 g "tobacco strips". "Fresh tobacco leaves" could be used or a "mild cigar". In this context, BgVV points out that fatal cases of poisoning in children were reported after the inadvertent consumption of half a cigar.

Far lower doses of nicotine can also have major effects on health. They include an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output and coronary circulation. Small doses of nicotine have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system; larger doses trigger convulsions. Given its psychoactive action, nicotine has an addictive potential. Respiratory paralysis may occur in the case of nicotine poisoning followed by death by suffocation.

The recommended use of tonka beans in the recipe is not unproblematic either. Tonka beans have a high level of coumarin of 1-3%. Coumarin is a liver toxin and is suspected of being carcinogenic. Maximum levels have been laid down in Germany for its use in foods.

The creativity of chefs reaches its limits when it jeopardises the health of consumers. BgVV not only warns against the use of recipes which could damage health but also against their publication.



Date Title Size
Stellungnahme des BgVV;
Einsatz von Tabakblättern in Lebensmitteln 83.6 KB


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