Poppy seeds: differences in morphine and codeine content and variation in inter- and intra-individual excretion

J Forensic Sci. 1996 Mar;41(2):209-12.


Poppy seeds from seven different origins (Dutch, Australian, Hungarian, Spanish, Czech, and two Turkish) were analyzed for the amount of opiates present. Four grams of each kind of seeds, equivalent to the amount of seeds on two bagels, were ingested by volunteers. One volunteer also ingested four times the same amount of poppy seeds from the same origin (Spanish). During 24 hours urine samples were obtained and screened for the presence of morphine and codeine using the FPIA technique (cut-off = 200 ng/mL) and a GC/MS confirmation with a limit of detection (LOD) of 25 ng/mL for codeine and morphine. Poppy seeds from different origins contain a wide variation of morphine (2-251 micro g/g) and codeine (0.4-57.1 micro g/g) content. No other opiate could be detected. After ingestion a large interindividual variation of excretion of opiates exists. The testing results from the same kind of seeds ingested four times with a one week interval by the same volunteer also show a poor reproduceability. Several kinds of poppy seeds can give positive testing results (Australian, Hungarian, Spanish and one kind of Turkish seeds). Within 24 hours all testing results became negative.

MeSH terms

  • Codeine / analysis
  • Codeine / pharmacokinetics
  • Codeine / urine*
  • Eating
  • Humans
  • Morphine / analysis
  • Morphine / pharmacokinetics
  • Morphine / urine*
  • Papaver / chemistry*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Time Factors


  • Morphine
  • Codeine