Poppy seed ingestion as a contributing factor to
opiate-positive urinalysis results: the Pacific perspective

Selavka CM
Forensic Toxicology Drug Testing Laboratory,
Tripler Army Medical Center, HI.
J Forensic Sci 1991 May; 36(3):685-96


The possible contribution of poppy seed foods to positive opiate urinalysis results, especially from foods available in the Pacific Rim area, has recently become an issue for the U.S. Army Forensic Toxicology Drug Testing Laboratory in Hawaii. To assess the likelihood of this possible contribution, seven different poppy seed food products were consumed by male and female volunteers, and urine specimens were collected at time increments up to either 24 or 72 h. Specimens were evaluated for opiates using Roche Abuscreen radioimmunoassay (RIA), and all RIA positive specimens were analyzed for morphine and codeine using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Poppy seed cake, bagels, muffins, and rolls did not contain sufficient quantities of poppy seeds to give rise to opiate positive specimens by U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) GC-MS cutoff levels (morphine = 4000 ng/mL, codeine = 2000 ng/mL), although a number of specimens were positive by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) cutoff levels (morphine and codeine = 300 ng/mL). However, ingestion of poppy seed streusel or Danish pastry led to confirmed morphine and codeine positive specimens, irrespective of the use of DOD or NIDA confirmation cutoff values. In addition, significant amounts of codeine were observed in a number of these specimens. These findings argue against the unqualified application of previously published quantitative guidelines for eliminating poppy seed ingestion as a possible cause for a positive opiate urinalysis result.
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