I came up positive on test for alcohol after eating sautéed onions.

SCRAM bracelet recorded alcohol in my system from 5 pm to 7 am. I did not drink alcohol, or use alcohol to make the onions. I read on another site about how cooking process of making sauteed or grilled onions can produce glycerol from the onion sugar and the heat from cooking. Glycerol is actually two alcohols.

Could the onions have caused this?

  • 4
    What sort of test?
    – moscafj
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 22:47
  • Do you have diabetes? You might want to get checked.
    – Niall
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 13:57
  • 1
    If you could make alcohol from onions like from e.g., barley, there would be such a drink, like beer.
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 2:45
  • If that was the case, that would really annoy a lot of people who do not drink for health or religious reasons!!
    – Max
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 14:45
  • 2
    It looks like there's a very long list of things that can set these off and are much more likely than onions - wigellcriminaldefense.com/2015/07/…
    – Niall
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 10:51

2 Answers 2


Some conditions can cause alcohol to be produced in the human body (look up auto-brewery syndrome). Sauteed onions are common enough that if they made people come up positive on alcohol tests, I bet we would all know it.


I don't think you could make an onion ferment. Saute if anything would boil off alcohol. Were the onions possible sautéed in alcohol? I use red wine to saute red onions.

Also environment can also cause a false positive. Search on scram false positive.

  • Sautéing is a dry heat cooking method; if you're adding wine, you are by definition not sautéing. You might sauté first and then deglaze with some wine, but that's different. Also, the OP doesn't suggest that there was any fermentation happening; the question is about whether the process of cooking onions can produce alcohol.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 5:43

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