The determination of morphine in urine and oral fluid following ingestion of poppy seeds

J Anal Toxicol. 2003 Oct;27(7):449-52. doi: 10.1093/jat/27.7.449.


In workplace drug-testing programs, the use of heroin, morphine, and codeine is currently determined by the analysis of urine specimens. It has been shown that ingestion of poppy seeds can cause a positive test result for morphine. In an attempt to differentiate positive results caused by poppy seed ingestion from those caused by heroin or morphine abuse, the screening cutoff concentration for urine opiates in the federal workplace drug-testing program was raised to 2000 ng/mL from 300 ng/mL. Currently, oral fluid is under consideration as a possible alternative to urine for drug testing. The suggested cutoff for oral fluid morphine is 40 ng/mL; however, the effect of poppy seed ingestion on morphine concentrations in this specimen type has not been widely investigated. Volunteers at two separate sites ingested commercially available poppy seeds and/or poppy seed bagels. Oral fluid and urine samples were collected at both sites. Oral fluid samples were collected for 24 h; urine was collected for 2 days. The samples were analyzed for the presence of codeine and morphine using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Morphine concentrations greater than the suggested cutoff concentrations were detected in oral fluid up to 1 h and in urine for up to 8 h. This study has demonstrated that a positive result for morphine in oral fluid may be due to the ingestion of poppy seeds.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Morphine* / analysis
  • Morphine* / urine
  • Papaver / chemistry*
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*


  • Morphine