DoD tells military to stop eating poppy seeds, or risk failing drug tests

No more poppy seed bagels, muffins or cake for soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, for now. Military members are being told to stay away from poppy seeds or risk failing drug tests.

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The under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness issued a memo to the branches of the military warning about the consumption of poppy seeds.

The memo says that concerns stemming from poppy seeds and drug testing are not new. Poppy seeds are part of the poppy plant which can be used in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

The seeds, according to the memo, can be contaminated by morphine and codeine that normally is caught by testing that distinguishes between use and seed ingesting.

New data shows that some poppy seed varieties may have higher codeine contamination than previously reported and could produce a false positive drug test.

The Washington Post reported that they are more likely to be contaminated if the seeds have not been washed.

“If you happen to be unlucky enough to choose the wrong poppy seed product, and if you eat that poppy seed product close enough to the drug test, then you can find yourself with an opiate-positive drug test result,” Gary Reisfield. a professor at the University of Florida’s college of medicine, told the newspaper. “There’s no way of knowing what the poppy seed content or ratio is in any food you happen to encounter in a bakery or a supermarket.”

The memo directs the heads of all military branches to “notify Service members to avoid consumption of all poppy seeds to include food products and baked goods containing poppy seeds.”

DOD Poppy Seed Memo by National Content Desk on Scribd

The Washington Post reported that a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found that people can test positive for opiates in a urine test. A separate study published in 2003 found that morphine and codeine can be found in urine tests up to 48 hours after eating something containing poppy seeds.

There have been several cases in Maryland, Alabama, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania where women have lost custody of their newborn babies for failing a drug test after eating something that had poppy seeds in it, the Post reported.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency tells athletes to not eat anything with poppy seeds before and during competitions, The Hill reported.

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