Poppy Seeds Can Cause a Positive Drug Test

It may sound like a myth, but it’s true: eating poppy seeds can cause a positive drug test.

This fact has been proven by several scientific studies from decades ago. Poppy seeds can lead to a false positive result for tests looking at opiate use. Lots of different opportunities require drug testing – including becoming an egg donor or surrogate. A false positive drug test can seriously affect those opportunities. Even more seriously, these inaccurate results can have huge consequences for pregnant women. Here’s everything you need to know about poppy seeds and drug tests, and how to avoid any confusion.

How Can Poppy Seeds Cause A Positive Drug Test?

Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy plant. Opium is used to make opiates like morphine and heroin, which are extremely strong and often-abused drugs. Poppy seeds themselves do not contain opium, but they sometimes pick up opiate residue when harvested. While this residue isn’t enough to have any opiate effects, it can show up on drug tests.

How Many Poppy Seeds Is Too Many?

It’s unclear how many poppy seeds can cause a positive drug test. It depends on how much opiate residue is on the seeds, and how sensitive the drug test is. Opiate tests originally used a very low threshold to determine a positive test. Specifically, because of the risk of false positives from poppy seeds or prescribed medications, the federal government raised the threshold significantly in 1998. However, some organizations, including many hospitals, still use the more sensitive tests, raising the risks of false positives.

While we don’t know the exact number of poppy seeds to trigger a false positive, we do know that people have experienced positive drug tests after eating a single slice of poppyseed cake or a poppy seed bagel.

What Does This Mean for Egg Donors and Surrogates?

Part of the egg donor and surrogate screening process involves a drug test. A positive drug test results in immediate disqualification as a candidate; and tracking down a false positive can take time. If you are getting ready for your medical screenings as an egg donor or surrogate, we strongly recommend avoiding any poppy seed products for a few days before the test.

What Does This Mean for Pregnant Women?

Unfortunately, there have been several cases where a false positive drug test caused by poppy seeds led to new mothers being temporarily separated from their newborn babies. Many hospitals routinely drug test pregnant women, often without their knowledge or consent, and often using the now outdated lower thresholds. Positive tests are typically passed on to Health and Human Services, and it can take days for a mistaken test result to be cleared up.

It’s simply not worth the risk of damaging what should be one of the happiest moments of your life. So, we recommend that pregnant women avoid foods with poppyseeds, especially as you get closer to delivery. Once your baby is born, if you don’t have any job-related drug tests coming up, then feel free to eat as many poppy seed bagels as you want!

Better Safe Than Sorry – Leave the Poppy Seeds for Later

While it might sound like a silly mistake, a false positive drug test can have serious consequences for egg donors, surrogates, and especially, pregnant women. Now that you know poppy seeds can cause a positive drug test, we hope you’ll take that into consideration. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.