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poppy seeds and drug tests (nytimes article)


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The Claim: Eating Poppy Seeds Can Make You Fail a Drug Test


Published: January 11, 2005

HE FACTS Heroin, a highly addictive drug, and poppy seeds, a pleasant and widely used cooking ingredient, derive from the same source, the opium poppy. This has led to a widespread belief that eating poppy seeds before a drug test is not a great idea.

But do poppy seeds really register in urine tests as opiates?

Absolutely, experts say.

Eating a couple of bagels heavily coated with poppy seeds can result in morphine in a person's system for hours, leading a routine drug test to come back positive. A subsequent test can rule out heroin, though not other opiates, by looking for a specific metabolite, 6-acetylmorphine.


But someone who has a poppy-seed bagel for breakfast and is tested later that day would still have far lower levels of morphine than a person who, for example, abuses painkillers. For that reason, the federal government recently raised the threshold for opiates in workplace testing, to 2,000 nanograms a milliliter from 300. Dr. Timothy P. Rohrig of the Regional Forensic Science Center in Kansas said eating three large bagels covered in poppy seeds could push a person over the old opiate threshold, though probably not the new one.

If someone tests well above the 2,000 limit and "tries to explain it by saying she ate 15 bagels for lunch, it would sound absurd," Dr. Rohrig said. But a person with a cold who claimed to use cough syrup with an opiate like codeine might be more believable, he said.

THE BOTTOM LINE Poppy seeds can affect the outcome of a drug test.


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