To those not familiar this would look like a delicious donut. But this a bagel decorated with poppy seeds.
But did you know that this delicacy can test you as positive in a drug test?
Some people avoid bagels because they’re watching their waistline, but in the case of Elizabeth Eden, she would’ve been wise to avoid eating one on the day she gave birth because it almost cost her custody of her child. That’s because consuming a poppy seed bagel for breakfast that morning resulted in a positive opiate test.
“I was in labor,” the Maryland mom said to a local media. “I was sitting in the bed. I was having contractions. I was on a Pitocin drip, and the doctor came in and said, ‘You’ve tested positive for opiates.’
“I said, ‘Well, can you test me again? And I ate a poppy seed bagel this morning for breakfast,’ and she said, ‘No, you’ve been reported to the state.’”
As a result, Eden’s newborn daughter, Beatrice, was kept on hold at the hospital for five days while a caseworker was assigned to perform a home check-up. Thankfully, once the caseworker learned that Eden’s was a legitimate case of “poppy seed defense,” the file was closed and she was able to take her baby home.
Unbelievable as this sounds, it’s an issue that has been ongoing for at least 25 years, says Dr. Peter Selby, chief of medicine and psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
“The poppy plant is where we get opiates, which are the naturally occurring chemicals in medications like codeine and morphine.”
A synthetic version is used to make illegal narcotics like fentanyl.
A positive drug test result is not a “false positive,” Selby says. It is indeed detecting trace amounts of opiates. And you don’t even need to consume that many poppy seeds for them to show up in your urine. Studies have shown that eating a poppy seed roll can result in a measure of 539 nanograms per milliliter of morphine two hours after ingestion. At St. Joseph Medical Centre where Eden had her baby, a test will come back positive with just 300 nanograms.
“It depends on how contaminated the poppy seeds are, [how well they were cleaned and processed], how many you consume and how concentrated your urine is at the time of testing,” Selby says. “It’s not enough to say if you only eat five seeds you’ll be fine because all of these reasons can result in a positive test.”
How Poppy Seeds Show Opioids?
According to a study, ‘Seeds of the opium poppy plant are legally sold and widely consumed as food. Due to contamination during harvesting, the seeds can contain morphine and other opiate alkaloids.’ and it further says that ‘Normal poppy seed consumption is generally regarded as safe. During food processing, the morphine content is considerably reduced (up to 90%). The possibility of false-positive opiate drug tests after poppy food ingestion exists. There are no unambiguous markers available to differentiate poppy food ingestion from heroin or pharmaceutical morphine use.’
Therefore, while the poppy plant is commercially grown and is consumed widely, there could be a chance of you being tested positive for opiates after consuming poppy seeds.
Opiates, as described by a study, has also been used in the medical fields to relieve pain in specific portions. The study says, ‘A group of painkiller drugs are opiates, which comes from the poppy plant. Opiates derived from opium are used as anodyne and hypnagogic. The natural opiates include opium, morphine, and codeine. There are also some man-made substances called opioids. Although the most commonly used term is opiate, however, the term “opiate” is sometimes used for close relatives of opium such as codeine, morphine, and heroin, while the term “opioid’ is used for the entire class of drugs including synthetic opiates such as oxycontin.’ However, you must know that poppy seeds per se isn’t toxic and are considered safe to be consumed by people according to FDA.