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Poppy seeds CAN trigger a false positive on a drug test

Article image for Poppy seeds CAN trigger a false positive on a drug test

Several callers contacted Neil Mitchell this morning to tell him they received false positive results on drug tests after eating poppy seeds.

One caller, Geoff, said he tested positive for opiates on a urine test he took as part of a job application.

He called the lab who performed the test and they discovered his breakfast — three pieces of wholemeal toast with poppy seeds — had caused the positive result.

Assistant Commissioner Shane Patton laughed when asked if it was possible to get a positive reading from eating poppy seeds.

“That’s rubbish. It couldn’t occur,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

But forensic toxicologist Andrew Leibie confirmed it can happen.

“It can only apply on a urine drug test, it doesn’t work on a roadside saliva drug test, and it’s fairly unusual.”

Mr Leibie said the poppy seeds on food are a different species to opium poppies, but they are processed the same way.

“Your body processes it in the same way, so when we’re looking at the urine drug test we see a substance which is the same as if your body has consumed heroin,” he said.

You don’t need to eat a heap of poppy seeds to get a false positive result on a drug test either.

“You have to have the right type of poppy seeds, particular species have more than others, but you don’t necessarily have to have a lot,” he said.

Mr Leibie said people who are worried about a false positive result should contact the laboratory who performed the test.

“They can have a bit of a closer look at it.

“If the levels are all pretty low and it all looks pretty normal for a poppy seed, what they’ll probably do is issue a report to say ‘yes, this is positive, however this may be due to poppy seed consumption,” he said.

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