Mom Eats A Poppy Seed Bagel And Tests Positive For Opiates In A Drug Test

Pregnant women need to be aware that some hospitals are still testing using the outdated readings for opiates.

A woman has tested positive for opiates after eating a poppy seed bagel
mavo / Shutterstock

Pregnant women need to be aware that some hospitals are still testing using the outdated readings for opiates.

According to a Maryland mother who failed a drug test, yes, you can test positive for opiates after eating a bagel. Elizabeth Eden discovered this fact after she failed a drug test while in labor last April. She had eaten a bagel earlier in the day, prior to going into labor. At the hospital, when she was tested for drugs, it was found she had opiates in her system, likely as a result of the bagel. Elizabeth requested another drug test, having heard that poppy seeds could give a false reading. However, her doctor refused.

While this story may seem funny, it turned out, as a result of her failing the drug test, she was reported to authorities according to the Washington Post. And, because of this, her newly born daughter had to stay in the hospital for five days in order to be monitored. Elizabeth was also assigned a caseworker. While the caseworker closed the inquiry, deeming it a “legitimate case of the poppy seed defense,” Elizabeth Eden is now suing the hospital according to WBAL-TV.

And, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. The Washington Post states two other cases involving people failing drug tests on account of them consuming poppy seeds.

In October 2010, a woman had her 3-day-old child removed from her custody after she failed a drug test. The woman sued for damages and received $143,500 in compensation. The hospital involved also agreed to update their policies.

A woman also filed a lawsuit after she failed a drug test as a result of eating a salad topped with poppy seed dressing. Her child was taken away from her for a total of 75 days. She was awarded $160,000 in compensation.

Poppy seed bagels can lead to false positives on some drug tests
  Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock

But, why are these false positives happening?

Procedures were put in place 20 years ago according to the Washington Post in direct relation to the fact that poppy seeds could register as a false positive in workplace drug testing. However, these limits still managed to register poppy seed readings. As a result, they increased the limit to 2,000 nanograms per milliliter from 300 nanograms per milliliter.

In theory, on the new limits, a person could eat up to three poppy seed bagels and not register as having drugs in your system. However, some hospitals still follow the old guidelines when it comes to expecting mothers. This is because some drug users would not be identified at the 2,000 limit. The hospital at which Elizabeth Eden gave birth, is one of such hospitals. It is unclear, however, why the hospital didn’t retest or take into consideration the updated guidelines once Elizabeth came back with a positive result, though.