The days of workers hiding their extracurricular activities behind the “too many everything bagels” excuse are numbered: A British company that makes specialized ingredients for the food industry has engineered a version of the topping that contains an almost-negligible amount of morphine. Drug tests can rule out the worst offender — heroin — but other opiates can still throw them a curve ball, and that’s where FDL steps in. Standard poppy seeds have morphine levels of 900 parts per million or so; FDL’s, though, have fewer than 20. The company says it uses a particular blend that relies on seeds sourced from Eastern Europe, where the poppy plants often contain less morphine.
False positives are uncommon, partly because the limit tests look for has been raised in recent years, but they’re still a legitimate concern for people who inhale the seeds like they’re potato chips (especially if they’re “everything”-flavored). “For the baking companies, they have been concerned about this for a while,” an FDL executive tells the trade mag Food Navigator, “because it has the potential to have a negative impact on their brand image.” The seeds’ unfortunate side effect is well established, but an incident a few weeks ago served as an especially clear reminder: Angela Rippon, a veteran U.K. journalist, ate poppy-seed baked goods for her BBC show Rip Off Britain: Food to see if she could fail a drug test. She consumed a loaf of poppy-seed bread and one poppy-seed bagel over the course of three days, and that apparently did her in.
FDL says it’s already signed a deal with a “big bread company,” but hasn’t said any more about when or where the poppy seeds will be available.