Eating a poppy seed muffin will make you fail a drug test; Hollywood myth or scientific fact? The idea was brought to the mainstream in a classic Seinfeld episode (a classic TV show from the 90’s, ask your parents about it) where Elaine fails a drug test at a new job after eating the tasty snack. In a rare case, the writers were actually bang on. Poppy seeds will return a positive drug reading.
The debate was reignited this week when a woman in the US was reported to the State authorities when giving birth. After going into labour, Elizabeth Eden is said to have tested positive to opiates, placing her new born daughter in care for 5 days… all because she ate a poppy seed bagel the morning of the birth.
"I was in labor. I was sitting in the bed. I was having contractions. I was on a... drip, and the doctor came in and said, 'You've tested positive for opiates,'" Eden told WBAL TV.
Poppy seeds are harvested from the same plant that is used in the production of heroin, the opium poppy. Every gram of poppy seeds contains anywhere between 1 and 10 micrograms of morphine, with illegal levels clocking in at 1.3 micrograms according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
"Even though most of the opium is removed from the poppy seeds during processing (usually more than 90%), in some cases, the seeds sold for use in foods still have a significant amount of opium – and thus morphine – on them," advises the US Anti-Doping Agency.
The traces of morphine are picked up during urine tests, and normal procedures for positive drug tests usually follow identification, which can include full investigations depending on the circumstances.
But don’t get any ideas. Smashing a bag of poppy seed bagels is not going to get you high. Poppy seeds “don’t have a drug effect on humans that are eating typical amounts of poppy seeds,” said Christopher Baird, assistant professor of physics at West Texas A&M University, when talking to the Huffington Post.