TV Shows Wrong About Poppy Seeds and Drug Tests

MythBusters and The Doctors TV shows are both wrong, misleading viewers and freaking out poppy seed bagel loving job applicants.
Jared Rosenthal
Published on

It’s the stuff of legend, jokes, and more than a few nervous job applicants.Heroin, Codeine and Morphine are all made from the same poppy seed plant that many people eat all the time. Of course a poppy seed bagel won’t get you high, even if you eat 5 or 10 of them. But, it definitely can cause you to fail a drug test. However, it’s not because of what two recent TV segments would lead you to believe.

MythBusters and The Doctors Both Wrong, Misleading Viewers

Both shows recently aired segments with people gouging themselves on poppy seed bagels, poppy seed cakes, and the like, and then taking instant drug tests. In each case, they come up positive for opiates. The only conclusion that all viewers can draw is to avoid poppy seeds before a drug test! However, Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors, who features Dr. Donald Fluegel as a guest drug testing expert, are both guilty of putting out completely misleading information! The Discovery Channel’s episode of MythBusters is no better.

The Truth about Poppy Seeds and Drug Tests

It’s Quality, Not Quantity: When poppy seeds are prepared for food distribution, they are washed. If washed properly, then it doesn’t matter how many bagels you eat – you will not test positive on a drug test. However, there is no way to know if the poppy seeds on your morning roll were washed properly. If they were not, then even one roll or bagel can cause you to fail a test for opiates.

Levels Tested: In non-DOT drug tests (i.e., all drug tests other than those performed for truckers, pilots, train conductors, and the like), the company has the right to decide what threshold levels to set. DOT drug tests, for example, set the mark at 2000. Thus, if a truck driver tests under 2000, it’s a negative. But a non-DOT drug test can have a lower level, say 500, which will likely lead to many false positives among poppy seed eaters. The moral of the story? Find out the levels that your company set your test at before you dig your teeth into that poppy seed cake the morning of your test.

Lab vs. Instant Test: Both The Doctors and MythBusters featured instant tests, which is ridiculous. Anyone applying for a job should get a lab test, but even if they don’t, any job applicant that fails an instant test will get the automatic right to have a lab perform confirmatory testing using much more sophisticated technology known as GC/MS (Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry). GC/MS tests are not confounded by the same unregulated arbitrariness of the over-the-counter garden variety drugstore instant drug tests used on the TV shows. And furthermore, GC/MS confirmation test results then go directly to professional doctors known as Medical Review Officers to review the results, not mis-informed doctors like Stork and Fluegel, who clearly need to brush up on their research.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

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Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.

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Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.