Can you fail drug testing after eating a bagel?

Could eating a bagel really make your fail drug testing? Credit Diane Alkier

While you could certainly fail workplace drug testing if you took heroin, what about if you consumed the poppy seeds contained in a bagel?

The question comes after a United States incident, where an expectant mother failed drug testing as part of a hospital visit. As the expectant mother said in a Yahoo! news article, she was more than happy to undertake the routine test.

“I did not take any drugs and had nothing to worry about,” Caitlyn Marie Ricci says in the article. However, she did.

After a female nurse told her that her urine sample had come back positive for opioids, she was shocked. “She asked if I had eaten any poppy seeds recently and that’s when I realised I had an eaten a bagel for breakfast that morning,” Ricci says. “She said, ‘We see this happen frequently, don’t stress. We will test the baby’s urine when he’s born. As long as he’s negative, there won’t be any issues.'”

What followed was drug testing of Ms Ricci’s baby when he was born more than a day later, interviews with child protective services in the hospital and in her home, and further drug testing of the mother. Ms Ricci says she was happy to comply because she had nothing to hide, but wonders what would have happened if the drug testing of the baby had come back positive – he recorded a negative test for opioids.

Can eating a bagel really result in a failed drug test?

A pregnancy specialist, Misty Gigler, says in the article that it is possible to fail a test due to ingesting poppy seeds. “Eating poppy seeds on bagels or in muffins prior to a drug test is a known risk factor for a false positive opioid screen,” Ms Gigler says. She also points out that “poppy seeds can have trace amounts of opiates.” There’s also a risk of a faulty test that delivers a false positive, she says.

Ms Gigler adds that many expectant mothers don’t know that they are asked to undergo drug testing during their pregnancy, which is a recommendation in the United States. She warns her clients to stay away from poppy seeds during pregnancy and particularly in the last four weeks, when the drug testing is generally carried out.

“The ramifications of testing positive could potentially get their baby taken away from them,” Ms Gigler says.

Urine drug testing v saliva testing

What should be pointed out is that the expectant mother mentioned in this article underwent urine drug testing, which is the most common testing method in the United States. Ms Ricci was told and states in the article that with urine testing, as little as a teaspoon of poppy seeds is enough to show a false positive on a drug test.

We believe that if saliva drug testing samples were used, the drug testing would highly unlikely to have been positive. Generally, eating products containing poppy seeds will not affect saliva drug testing results. Or you would need to ingest a lot of the product to have a failed test.

Saliva drug testing is the method we recommend for our workplace drug testing.


Could eating a bagel really make your fail drug testing? Credit Diane Alkier

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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