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What foods can throw off a drug test?

If you are a health care professional, you may or may not be aware of an organization called the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP). HPSP is a government program that monitors people who have been reported, or self-reported, a potential alcohol or drug issue. The HPSP monitoring program protects the public from a provider whose service may be impacted by drug or alcohol use. Providers may be nurses, anesthesiologists, doctors, surgeons, dentists, pharmacists or any health care professional who is required to maintain a professional license for their employment.

How does the testing program at HPSP work? Basically, you are assigned a color and when your color is randomly selected, you must go to a designated testing site and provide a urine sample. If you test positive for drugs or alcohol, your professional license and livelihood are in jeopardy. Results are reported to your licensing board, whether it is the Minnesota Board of Nursing, Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, Minnesota Board of Dentistry, Minnesota Board of Pharmacy or others. So, being in the monitoring program must be taken with utmost seriousness and care.

What people may not know is that many prepared foods, including main dishes, sides, and desserts include alcohol and can result in a positive drug test. Arming yourself with knowledge and diligence is the best way to combat and prevent innocently receiving damaging positive test results.

What should I know about drug testing and foods?

The best way to avoid potential drug or alcohol in your foods is to prepare your own meals. However, this is probably not realistic when oftentimes people will buy prepared food to save time, grab some takeout on the way home after a busy shift, or eat in a restaurant that may use alcohol in cooking many main dishes, sides, and desserts.

Because you want to still enjoy life and food during a monitoring situation, which could last a year or longer, arm yourself with awareness and knowledge.

Do poppy seeds really cause a positive drug test?

Yes, eating poppy seeds can result in a positive drug test. Poppy seeds come from an opium poppy and may contain opiate residue. These seeds are also often used in bakery treats like bagels and more. So, before you reach for that tasty-looking everything bagel or zucchini bar or citrusy lemon cake, stop and think. Those little black specs in the pastry or pudding might be poppy seeds.

Possible positive test results from these foods and more

Here are some other foods to watch out for:

Alcohol-infused desserts like these:

  • Bourbon cake
  • Brandy custard
  • Gin-spiked tarts
  • Rum cake
  • Vodka tiramisu
  • Chocolate and brandy truffle
  • Champagne chocolates
  • Single malt caramels

Many dishes are cooked with alcohol, which may or may not burn off in the cooking process. Here are some we found:

  • Chicken cacciatore often includes white wine
  • Tequila lime shrimp
  • Chicken marsala
  • Coq au vin
  • Boeuf Bourguignon
  • Beer bread
  • Bratwurst boiled in beer
  • Maple bourbon glaze on pork chops
  • Margarita guacamole

If you are ordering a menu item, especially a dessert, and see a word you don’t know, better to ask the server what it is than regret it later. Here are a few examples:

  • Negroni, a gin
  • Vermouth, an Italian cocktail
  • Prosecco, white Italian wine
  • Campari, a liqueur
  • Amaretto, also a liqueur

If you are about to start HPSP monitoring, are already being monitored, or just want to learn more about the HPSP monitoring program, contact our nursing license lawyer and health care professionals licensing attorney. We can help you learn how to best handle the situation. Your livelihood and career could depend on it.