As one of the nation’s leading pre-employment drug screening providers, the 3rd Degree Screening team gets this question a lot: Can eating poppy seeds cause a false positive on my drug test?

This is a common “fun fact” that is often thrown out when conversation turns to drug testing. In fact, it’s so common that it’s become the subject of much debate online, with many people denouncing it as a myth, and many others swearing by the science behind it. With all this conflicting information, it can be hard to find the truth.

Fortunately, in today’s post, our full background check experts are digging up the truth once and for all. Can poppy seeds affect drug tests?

In short: yes. But you probably have nothing to worry about. Here’s why.

Why Poppy Seeds Can Affect Drug Tests

Poppy seeds are harvested from the seedpod of the opium poppy, which is also the source of the opium extract that is used to make opioid drugs like heroin, morphine, and codeine. Although the seeds themselves contain no psychoactive properties, and are thoroughly cleaned before they are processed for consumer use in cooking and baking, they may still contain opiate residue. The trace amounts on the seeds are not concentrated enough to produce any noticeable effects in the consumer, but they may be high enough to register on a drug test.

How Many Poppy Seeds Does It Take?

So, how many poppy seed bagels are too many poppy seed bagels? As much as we’d like to say no such thing, you should probably set some kind of cutoff for the poppy seed pastries the morning before your drug test.

Unfortunately, nailing down a hard limit is very difficult to do. It depends on:

  1. The concentration of opiate residue left on the poppy seeds
  2. The threshold used by the laboratory to screen for positive results

As the drug testee, it’s virtually impossible to know these things beforehand, so the best answer we can provide is: the more poppy seeds you eat, the higher your chances of testing positive. Try to avoid them altogether in the days leading up to your screening.

How Long Do They Stay In Your System?

Oh no! You might be thinking. I’m reading this article because I just ate a poppy seed bagel an hour ago and I’m about to leave for the lab!

First of all, one bagel probably won’t harm you, which is good news, since research has shown that opiates can be detected in your system just two hours after consuming poppy seeds. Depending on how many you ate, codeine and morphine may be detectable in your system up to 60 hours later.

What If I Test Positive?

In the event of a false positive, you should contact the background check service that provided your drug screening, let them know about your bagel fiasco, and ask to be re-tested. Although this can be a hassle and will likely warrant further employment background investigations, it gives you the chance to clear your name so you don’t miss out on an important employment opportunity.

Just lay off the bagels next time.

3rd Degree Screening Provides Comprehensive Background Checks

At 3rd Degree Screening, we’re proud to provide full background checks for employers looking to build the best possible team. When you partner with us, you can order comprehensive educational history checks, reference checks, Social Security verifications, pre-employment drug screenings, and more! Contact us online today to see how we can help you streamline your hiring process and grow your business today.