Life Imitates Art: Poppy Seed Bagel Leads to Unfortunate Positive Drug Test

In a classic Seinfeld episode, Elaine is fired from her job for having tested positive for opiod use. The culprit, as it turned out, was a poppy seed bagel.

Now some people have claimed that such an outcome is a myth, that it is not possible to test positive just from eating a poppy seed bagel. Well who better to test such a myth than Myth Busters:

So yes, it is possible. I’m not sure how many poppy seed bagels you have to eat in order to test positive. The video seems to imply that the guy ate a whole bag of bagels, which obviously not a normal amount. It would have been helpful if they had mentioned how many bagels would lead to a a positive drug test.

But it looks like there was no need for the myth busters to even test this one; it’s been confirmed in real-life situations.

The most recent case involves a Maryland woman who failed a drug test because she ate a poppy seed bagel the morning she gave birth. The result of such a breakfast choice was that the woman’s newborn daughter was held at the hospital for five days and the woman was assigned a case worker for a home checkup as a result of the ordeal.

“It was traumatizing,” the woman told WBAL TV 11 on Wednesday.

“I was in labour. 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 poppyseed bagel this morning for breakfast,’ and she said, ‘No, you’ve been reported to the state.'”

Now I know that opioid abuse is a big problem, and that doctors and other medical personnel are trying to do what they think is best for everyone involved.  But it seems like no took the time to ask the woman a couple of questions or to simply listen to her explanation about the situation before taking such drastic measures.

This is not the first time this has happened.

Two moms in the U.S. have sued their hospitals because they failed drug tests and had their newborns taken away after eating food containing poppy seeds, according to the Washington Post. Both cases settled — one for US$143,500 and the other for US$160,000.

In the Maryland case, the case worker quickly realized the woman’s explanation for the positive drug test was legitimate and closed the file. This seems like a shoot first and ask questions later approach to handling such situations.

My guess is that it is going to cost the hospital some money to make things right with this woman, similar to what happened in the cases noted above. I have mixed feelings about whether such payments are necessary, but the real issue is that it should have never gotten to this point.

A couple of questions, and a couple of hours, and it seems like the situation would have resolved itself.

I’m glad the woman was found innocent; I’m glad the baby was not born to someone who was abusing opioids; I’m glad that out health care system checks for such abuse. It’s just a shame that common sense seemed to have been left out of the equation.

Maybe the best outcome, besides a healthy baby, is that hopefully hospitals and doctors will be more careful in similar situations moving forward.

In the meantime, I have a craving for a poppy seed bagel…

2 thoughts on “Life Imitates Art: Poppy Seed Bagel Leads to Unfortunate Positive Drug Test

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