Medical Journal of Australia published a warning that a bean that is finding popularity because of its low GI properties can be deadly if not prepared in the correct way.
Lupines, which come in bitter and sweet varieties, are being added to products like bread to lower its rating on the glycemic index and in sausages to reduce fat. They can also be eaten raw as a snack. But doctors say they must be treated first to remove dangerous levels of a toxic alkaloid, Australian Associated Press reported Sunday.
The warning comes after two women were taken to a West Australian (WA) hospital after being inadvertently poisoned by the beans.
They suffered blurred vision, light-headedness, lethargy and had difficulty walking, said Nevada Pingault, an epidemiologist at WA Health's Communicable Disease Control Directorate.
An investigation revealed a quantity of bitter lupines had been milled into flour to meet a local shortage in supply, but it contained 1,000 times the alkaloid level permitted for flour.
Pingault said there was an increasing consumption of lupine products across the community, but consumers and food makers may not be aware of the risks.
"We recommend that information be provided about the dangers of selling and eating products containing bitter lupines that have not been appropriately treated to remove toxic alkaloids," she added.
(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2009)