Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why do poppy seeds show up in drug tests?

At this point, I would say basically everyone -- or at least the majority of people -- have been drug tested at some point in their lives.  Whether this is was for a high school/college sport or for a job, drug tests are pretty common.  Whenever word about an athletic drug test got out at my high school, a  running joke among students was that all athletes should stay away from poppy seeds for a while in order to avoid their drug test producing a false negative.

As a former athlete myself, I was no stranger to the poppy seed joke, but I never fully understood why or how this random thing showed up in a test that was searching for drugs.  It turns out that a handful of opiates -- codeine, morphine, and heroin -- are actually produced from the seeds of poppy flowers.  All three of these opiates can be (and typically are) abused by some people.  Therefore, ingesting poppy seeds can almost immediately lead to traces of opiates in the system, which can then be picked up by drug tests which are administered either in schools or in places of employment.

Poppy seeds are totally legal to be used in foods in the United States, but consumers should be aware of the repercussions of ingesting this ingredient. People who fall victim to a false negative drug test due to poppy seeds being in their system can opt for a more specific test (usually done on a hair follicle or through a blood sample) to prove that their system is clean of actual drugs.


  1. I have always heard this about poppy seeds and drug testing. I was told that it is possible that poppy seeds could show up in a drug test but that it is very unlikely that someone would ingest the amount necessary for this to ever happen. I was told this a long time ago. Maybe they have improve the drug test sensitivity since then.

  2. The poppy seed in drug tests is something I have heard about but never understood. However, it is scary to think that we are allowed to ingest food that has something that is made into drugs. I wonder if that could be part of the reason why fast food can become so addicting?

  3. Like Ryan, I had always been told that you have to ingest a ridiculous amount of poppy seeds in order for it to show up on the drug tests. It is so interesting that little things like that can throw off tests.

  4. The article addresses the repercussions of using poppy seeds since they result in a false negative result during a drug treat. Most of the drug tests are conducted on athletes, as well as in employment places. The author indicates that the traces of opiates are observed during drug tests due to the use of poppy seeds in the production of drugs such as heroin, morphine and codeine, which are usually abused by people. The article claims that there is a more specific test, which can exonerate a person from a false negative result in a drug test. However, the specific test is conducted through a blood sample or on a hair follicle. The test is important in proving that a person under a drug test is actually clean from the abuse of actual drugs.