An Egyptian barrister claimed on Monday that some chocolate bars being sold in the country contain the narcotic opium poppy, triggering the interior ministry to investigate the allegation.
Jaber Jad Nassar, the former president of Cairo University, said in a Facebook post that several people, including some who occupy high-ranking positions which require testing for drugs by the authorities, have been testing positive for opiates even though they do not consume them.
Nassar then “coincidentally came across chocolate bars which contain a high percentage of opium poppy” being sold in markets, malls and gas stations across the country.
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A photo he posted of a label of one chocolate bar shows that it contains 2.3 percent of opium poppy.
He noted that while using opium poppy and consuming it is legal in several western countries, it’s illegal in Egypt, adding that these chocolate bars could be the reason people are testing positive for drugs in Egypt.
Nassar’s post stirred controversy in the country, pushing the interior ministry to intervene to investigate the matter.
The ministry acknowledged that poppy seeds are in fact among the ingredients of some foodstuffs, adding, however, that they are processed before usage to make sure they do not contain any narcotics.
It added that it has taken samples of the chocolate bars which Nassar warned of to analyze them.
Drug users in Egypt can be subject to several penalties that include suspension from work.
In 2021, authorities said that 2.5 percent of employees in institutions and departments at ministries and governmental offices tested positive for drugs, mainly hashish, tramadol and morphine.
In June 2021, Egypt ratified a law that stipulates firing government employees who test positive for drugs.