Will Poppy Seeds Show on a Drug Test?

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Yes, poppy seeds will often show on a drug test. Whether or not poppy seeds will change your drug screening results depends on the amount, type, and frequency of your poppy seed consumption.

If you are worried that your drug test might be inaccurate due to poppy seeds, tell your drug testing team before the test starts. Your provider might then decide to order additional tests.

Why Do Poppy Seeds Affect a Drug Screen?

The consumption of poppy seeds can cause a person to fail a drug test because such seeds come from the poppy plant that also produces opioids. Therefore, poppy seeds can and do cause false positives for opioids on standard urine drug screen tests. 

How Soon Are Opiates Detected After Eating Poppy Seeds?

Any poppy seeds you eat must move through your digestive tract before they enter your bloodstream. Typically, that takes an hour or two.

In studies, researchers found peak morphine concentrations about three to eight hours after their testing subjects ate poppy seeds.[1]

These chemicals can last as long as regular opioid byproducts in the urine, which is usually a few days. 

How Many Poppy Seeds Do You Need to Eat for a Positive Result?

Its very hard to say and depends largely on the amount of poppy seeds you consume and the timing.

A single teaspoon of poppy seeds can produce an opiate concentration of 1,200 ng/ml, which is large enough for you to fail some tests. But other organizations, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, look for concentrations of 2,000 or higher.[2]

If you eat a poppy seed bagel, for example, your urine may test positive for opioids for up to a few days. 

Foods That Contain Poppy Seeds

All poppy-seed-containing foods can lead to false positive test results.[3] You'll typically see the seeds on the top of breads, bagels, muffins, and rolls. You may see them inside cakes and cookies. Some salad dressings also contain poppy seeds, as do some rice-based dishes.

People have failed drug tests due to poppy seeds in breads that didn't have seeds in the ingredient list.[4] Be careful about everything you consume prior to taking a urine drug screen.

What Should I Do If I eat/ate poppy seeds and need to take a Drug Screen?

If you eat poppy seeds regularly, the best thing to do would be avoid these foods for several days to even a week prior to taking your drug test. In addition, if you receive what you think is a false positive result due to poppy seeds, talk to your doctor, the lab that ordered the test, or your employer and explain the situation and ask to retake the test.

Sources

  1. Poppy Seed Ingestion and Opiate Urinalysis: A Closer Look. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2263066/. September 1990. Accessed July 2022.
  2. Finally, an Opiate Test That Doesn't Confuse Seeds With Heroin. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/finally-an-opiate-test-that-doesnt-confuse-poppy-seeds-with-heroin-180949294/. January 2014. Accessed July 2022.
  3. Poppy Seed Ingestion as a Contributing Factor to Opiate-Positive Urinalysis Results: The Pacific Perspective. Journal of Forensic Sciences. https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/poppy-seed-ingestion-contributing-factor-opiate-positive-urinalysis. 1991. Accessed July 2022.
  4. Poppy Seed and Prohibited Drug Testing. JMVH. https://jmvh.org/article/poppy-seed-and-prohibited-drug-testing/. March 2021. Accessed July 2022.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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