These everyday products could make you flunk a drug test
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Earlier this month, pregnant mother Elizabeth Dominguez, 29, tested positive for opium during a drug test administered by a Niagra Falls hospital before going into labor.
She was separated from her newborn son until officials confirmed that it was a false positive. The culprit: A poppy seed bagel.
But poppy seeds aren’t the only ingredient that could show up on a toxicology screen. Next time you’re vying for a new job, headed to the doctor or even driving — lest you be pulled over at a late-night traffic stop — plant to avoid these foods
The prickly Asian fruit is notorious for its offensive stench — one so strong that even Breathalyzers react.
Last month, police stopped a man in the Jiangsu province of China for what they suspected was drunk driving. He failed a Breathalyzer test — but claimed that it was from durain, not alcohol. He was soon exonerated with a blood test.
Local police wanted to know more about durian’s impact on blood-alcohol levels. So an officer ate the fruit, Breathalyzed himself — and blew a .036%, which is .016 percentage points above China’s legal limit.
When the officer retested three minutes later, the alcohol reading disappeared.
Experts say this is likely due to lingering “mouth alcohol,” which may occur after eating ripe fruit, drinking juice or after rinsing with an alcohol-based mouthwash.
Breads and pastries
Most baked goods are made with yeast, which ferments in the dough and produces a small amount of alcohol. It’s not enough to get you drunk, but, according to Canada-based Breathalyzer manufacturer LifeSafer, the dough stuck in your teeth following a bready snack could be enough to register on its breath test.
The company also calls out vanilla extract, which is frequently used in baked desserts and contains at least 35% alcohol.
However, the effects should only last about 15 minutes before the residual alcohol dissipates, and swishing water can speed up the process.
Booze isn’t the only intoxicant to worry about in a gin and tonic. Liquor’s favorite mixer is made with small amounts of quinine, which has been known to show up in other illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Testing positive for quinine can be a red flag to authorities, and studies show that tonic consumption can tip the scale.
Hemp seed-based products such as hemp oil, milk or a seedy granola may be perfectly legitimate, but they can contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive ingredient in weed.
It’s not nearly enough to feel a buzz, but if you consume hemp-based foods regularly, that THC can build up in your body’s fat cells — and drug tests can’t tell the difference between that and THC from recreational pot.
THC can linger in human fat for up to about 45 days, so it’s best to avoid these foods for at least a month before a scheduled screening.
Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, should not pose an issue as standard drug tests are only checking for THC.
Hemp seed oil is also sometimes used to produce B12 supplements, also known as riboflavin.
There are a number medicines and vitamin pills that could trigger a false positive. Over-the-counter cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan, such as DayQuil, have been associated with false positives for phencyclidine (PCP).
The pseudoephedrine found in decongestants such as Sudafed resembles illegal amphetamines.
Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS may produce false positives for THC.
Some dietary supplements, especially sports enhancers, are known to contain controlled substances such as ephedrine and other drugs associated with “doping” in athletes, such as the steroid hormone androstenedione.
8 Items That Can Make You Fail a Drugs & Alcohol Test
Failing a Drugs & Alcohol Screening happens far more than you think!
As D&A screening becomes part of daily life within the construction & civil engineering industry it is essential to take a bit of time to understand that there are plenty of everyday foods and other harmless items that can be confused for illegal substances!
- Hemp Seeds
Whether you enjoy hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, or hemp seed milk, every single one of these items, especially if you consume them regularly, will cause you to test positive for THC. Althoughﾠhemp seedsﾠare legal, drug tests cannot tell the difference between marijuana users and hemp seed eaters. There are microscopic traces of THC in hemp seeds. You should also know that THC is stored in body fat, which means you will test positive for as long as 30 days after you stop eating it!
- Cold Remedies
Almost allﾠover-the-counter cold and flu remediesﾠwork by narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal passages, which helps to relieve congestion. The ingredient in cold remedies that does this, pseudoephedrine, is a synthetic amphetamine, which can be used (in huge quantities of course) to make meth. Taking cold medication can cause you to test positive for amphetamines!
If you have ever had a urinary tract infection, then you are familiar with this product that can give you some immediate relief. Azo strips your urinary tract, which is great for removing the bacteria causing the infection; however, many people use Azo to try to fool a drug test. Azo tends to turn the urine bright red or super yellow, which is usually a red-flag to test administrators who will automatically kick out your results, believing that you are trying to hide something.
This is perhaps one of the most common offenders when it comes to failed drug tests. Sudafed is often mistaken on pee tests for numerous hard-core drugs. This is because, like most cold remedies, Sudafed’s main ingredient is pseudoephedrine, which is a type of synthetic amphetamine. Avoid Sudafed at least 48 hours before a drug test. If you take Sudafed for allergies, feel free to sneeze away during your pee test.
- Tonic Water
Are you kidding? That’s what we said when we found out about this! The truth is,ﾠtonic water, which is also known as quinine water, was originally made as a means of delivering quinine from South America. Drinking tonic water can lead to a false positive for opiates!
- Vitamin B Supplements
Many natural herbs that contain vitamin B2, or vitamin B complex supplements, can lead to a false positive. This is because most commercial B2 supplements (also known as riboflavin) are synthetic. These are made from the fermentation of a particular plant, or they can be products of hemp seed oil. As you might have figured out, this will give you a false positive for marijuana. Avoid taking vitamin B supplements until you know you have passed your drug test.
This every day, over-the-counter pain killer might be your first choice when it comes to relieving pain, but you should try alternatives should you plan to take a drug test within 48hours. This is because little old ibuprofen can cause you to test positive for barbiturates, marijuana, or benzodiazepines. Codeine, a commonly prescribed pain medication and also the active ingredient in some prescription cough medicines, and Meperidine are structurally related to morphine and could also cause false positive test results.
- Poppy Seeds
Many people enjoy poppy seeds in their muffins and bagels, but wait just a minute! If you plan to take a drug test in the near future, you should skip those delicious favourites until your first day on the job. Poppy seeds contain tiny traces of opiates, such as the kind found in codeine and opium. After eating something containing poppy seeds, you can test positive for these drugs for as long as 48 hours. It’s best to skip the poppy seeds for now, and enjoy someﾠsesame seedsﾠor sunflower seeds in the meantime
If you’re interested in hearing more or wish to discuss your current work situation then please drop us an email or give us a call:
Can Poppy Seeds Really Ruin Your Drug Test? I Ate Thousands to Find Out.
It sounds like an urban legend. A rumor, whispered at the lunch table. A factoid floated in an auditorium by a misinformed gym teacher. A forgettable footnote on a D.A.R.E. pamphlet.
It’s a punchline: Elaine Benes herself fell under the spell of poppy seed bagels, then flunked her drug screening as a result — leading to some hilarious ‘90s laugh-track action. But it wouldn’t be funny if you lost your job because of your breakfast, would it?
Research has shown that eating poppy seeds, which contain trace amounts of opioids, can in fact trigger positive drug results on standard urine tests. Always wary of “science,” I decided to take matters into my own bladder to see if eating poppy seeds will actually cop a non-opium user (like me) a hot pee test in real life. The process was painful. It was bitter. And it left with me nothing but a bad taste in my mouth and a cup of urine in my hands. Kind of like D.A.R.E. assemblies in middle school, actually.
But I learned something along the way: mainly, that it’s extremely hard to eat poppy seeds in large quantities. And, if you think you are going to get drug tested in the near future, it’s best stick to croissants. If you value your career path, at least.
Let’s get this out of the way: I had zero medical consultation over the course of my journey. Most studies out there are ambiguous on the specifics — saying it is possible to trigger a positive test by eating poppy seeds, but that it is greatly dependent on variables like metabolism, and even type of poppy seed being ingested. Any doctor I would talk to would just refer to these studies, and regurgitate them, one way or another. This experiment wasn’t about what doctors think would happen. This is about what actually does happen. I had the means to do this on my own.
I did ask my girlfriend, a practicing physician assistant, if it was safe to eat thousands of poppy seeds. She said, “In my medical expertise, you are an idiot,” and went back to watching Friends on her iPad. This was all the assurance I needed. I knew I was doing the right thing.
Still, YOU SHOULDN’T DO THIS AT HOME. Eating large quantities of poppy seeds can make you sick. And I’d hate for you to get sick, dear reader. Especially during this time of year.
A deep dive into poppy-flavored hell
So, according to the guy who sells bagels at fancy New York market Dean & DeLuca, poppy seed bagels commonly have two teaspoons of poppy seeds in them.
Naturally, I wanted to eat the equivalent of several bagels’ worth of poppy seeds, to fully test my hypothesis. If you are going to do something, you might as well go dangerously overboard. as my grandfather would often say.
But after putting on my lucky red hat and eating one bagel, I decided it was neither beneficial to my waistline, nor my state of well-being to eat any more. Plus, we were out of cream cheese. I needed a different way to consume a lot of poppy seeds. It was a unique situation for me, as I had never seen/heard of anyone who was actively trying to eat poppy seeds at a high clip.
This was uncharted territory. I imagined myself as the Lewis and Clark of misguided Internet writers. It was a good feeling.
Ditching the bagels
I made my second move and bought poppy seeds in bulk, putting them in an artisanal Mason jar because I’m a white millennial and that’s just the kind of stuff we do when our backs are up against the wall.
Remembering my favorite part of Mary Poppins (“a spoonful of poppy seeds makes the medicine go down”), I grabbed my Mason jar and the spoon I always carry in my back pocket, then went wrist-deep in seeds. That’s when I realized two crucial things: I had never actually seen Mary Poppins, and I had made a monumental mistake in my mouth.
I coughed and gagged and fell to my knees in instant regret — when it was all over, I felt like I had spent a fortnight at Señor Frog’s, with the lights on.
Unattached to an assorted baked good, poppy seeds taste like dirt-flavored Dippin’ Dots™. They are bitter and stick to the back of your throat. Flashbacks of the cinnamon challenge danced in my head. I could not raw-dog this one. And I hardly ever say that. Trust me.
The worst smoothie ever
While I was draining my glass of standby water, trying to clear the poppy seed blockage lacing my windpipe, I had an idea: I’d mix the seeds with water and drink it! I’ve always had major luck trying to drink my problems away in the past, maybe it would work again?
OK — it did work. This was definitely easier than eating these things raw, and less filling than eating a bunch of bagels. Plus, I know you should drink eight glasses of water a day, and I only had seven so far that day.
That glass looks gross, right? That’s because it WAS gross. But it did the trick. I had consumed several thousand poppy seeds — roughly the equivalent of four to six bagels’ worth. I was finally finished with my training, and ready to get back into the ring to face my rival, Apollo Creed. But first, I had to take this drug test and finish writing the article about it.
Test results, pt. 1
Having a very involved and concerned mother, I had some familiarity with at-home drug tests. For starters, they’re 99% as effective as lab tests! In other words, if you pee hot in one of these things, you’ll definitely show up positive in a more invasive lab test (the kind your employer or probation officer would probably deploy).
And you get your results in minutes. How convenient.
Two hours after eating my seeds, I went to the office bathroom when no one was looking, and peed into a cup. Now, this isn’t totally irregular for me, but usually I just dump the cup in the sink instead of taking it out of the bathroom and into an empty conference room to await the results.
After 10 minutes, the results were in: I was opiate free.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed. For once in my life, I was incredibly distressed about passing a drug test. I know it shouldn’t matter, but for some reason, I wanted to test positive.
Test results, pt. 2: Wil’s reckoning
I went home in a foul mood — still picking seeds out of my teeth and sensing the bitter remnants of defeat on my tongue (or maybe I was still tasting the thousands of poppy seeds I just ate?).
When I got home, I told my girlfriend what had happened. She suggested I try testing myself again, as sometimes these things take a little while, in her esteemed medical opinion.
I went to the drug store and got another drug test — and chugged some more poppy water, just in case.
As I readied myself over the cup, I somehow knew this time was different. Maybe it was something in the air. Maybe it was my girlfriend’s voice, demanding that I “at least do this in the bathroom, and not in the lobby of our building in front of all these people.” Maybe it was just woman’s intuition that I think I somehow gained by eating thousands of poppy seeds.
Whatever it was, when the piss settled and the test was ready for a gander, I knew that little red line would be absent from the “Opioid” section — signaling a positive test.
Lo and behold: I had done it. I was positive for opium.
I spent the rest of the weekend reflecting on my successful experiment, while kicking back and smoking piles and piles of actual opium — because if I was already testing dirty, I might as well enjoy the real thing right? Maybe with a bagel. A sesame seed bagel.
(Just kidding, Mom — please don’t make me take a test again.)
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Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He’ll never eat a poppy seed again. Follow him @wilfulton.