Pentagon to Military Members: Stop Eating Poppy Seeds

They could cause a failed drug test, memo warns
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2023 10:40 AM CST

It's a lesson that Elaine learned the hard way—and one that's not purely the stuff of TV lore. In a Feb. 17 memo, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros warned service members of the potential perils posed by poppy seeds as they relate to drug testing. "Poppy seeds are naturally sourced from the poppy plant," the Department of Defense memo reads, and "may be contaminated during harvest with morphine and codeine," both drugs in the opioid family. The Hill cites the US Anti-Doping Agency, which clarifies that the seeds can absorb opium extract during harvest.

Per the memo, "recent data suggests certain poppy seed varieties may have higher codeine contamination than previously reported." As such, eating them could result in a codeine-positive urinalysis result and present as a failed drug test. The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon learned of the issue last year and had a lab analyze the codeine and morphine levels in various poppy seed brands. Cisneros' advice to service members, who are required to undergo random urinalysis testing: Cease all consumption of poppy seeds in food products, including baked goods. (A poppy seed bagel led to a traumatizing ordeal for one mom.)

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