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  1. SamanthaRabbit
    Food and Failed Drug Tests

    Life is just plain bizarre. It’s hard enough earning a living and making our way in the world, without failing mandatory drug tests when you haven’t done any drugs to warrant the result. I’m talking about eating poppy seeds and hemp foods. Yes, they can indeed cause you to fail a drug test. This does not happen often, but it does in fact occur from time to time.

    A recent Pennsylvania case involves new mother Elizabeth Mort, who failed a drug test administered by the hospital where she gave birth. Apparently hospitals in that state are allowed to conduct drug tests on new mothers. Mort claims that she had eaten a Dunkin Donuts bagel with poppy seeds on the morning she gave birth last month, and that this resulted in the failed drug test.

    So is this a ridiculous claim, or does it have merit? While I can’t say one way or another about the case of Elizabeth Mort, I can say that eating poppy seeds can indeed cause you to fail a drug test for opiates. So bagel eaters beware if your employer likes to surprise you with random drug testing.

    Poppy seeds contain minute traces of opiates. Both opium and codeine occur in poppy seeds, albeit in tiny quantities. You cannot get high on poppy seeds. Even if you ate a bucket-load of poppy seeds, you would not get high, though you’d probably wind up with a terrific case of gas. But the sensitivity of drug tests (parts per billion) is such that you can indeed fail a drug test after eating a poppy seed bagel. Apparently the minuscule amounts of opiates in poppy seeds can persist in the blood for about 48 hours.

    Over time numerous cases of poppy seed drug failures have hit the news. Two involve individuals in law enforcement. In 1990 a veteran police officer in St. Louis was suspended for four months after failing a drug test. Subsequent investigation traced the failure to poppy seeds in bagels, and the officer was eventually reinstated. The same thing occurred in 1999 when a New jersey prison guard was fired for failing a drug test. Once again the culprit was a poppy seed bagel, and the guard got his job back.

    What we can conclude from this mess is that poppy seed bagels maybe the road to ruin. If you work in a company where drug tests take place, know that you could get sacked for eating a bagel. Of course, any other food containing poppy seeds will do the same thing. Caveat emptor.

    Recently a friend of mine failed marijuana tests three times, even though she had consumed no cannabis at all. She came to me distressed about this, and I asked if she was eating any hemp foods or using any hemp cosmetics. Hemp is fiber-type cannabis that contains miniscule amounts of THC, the psychoactive agent in pot. The seeds of hemp are rich in protein, and are made into energy bars, snacks of various kinds, hemp milk and other tasty foods. Some companies also sell hemp oil for its nutritional value. And no, you can’t get high on hemp seeds. For even though there are microscopic traces of THC in hemp seeds, the amounts are too tiny to produce a high.

    Digging into all available research, I discovered several instances in which consumption of hemp products resulted in failed drug tests. Even more, I found a few instances in which the use of hemp-based cosmetic products including creams and conditioners had also resulted in failed drug tests.

    After learning about this, I advised my friend to stop eating hemp seeds and hemp seed snacks, stop using hemp milk, and avoid her hemp-containing cosmetics. She did so to the letter, and passed a marijuana urine test a couple of weeks later.

    Most people who eat poppy seed bagels will not fail opiate tests. And most people who eat hemp foods will not fail marijuana tests. This is due to the incredibly low volume of psychoactive compounds fond in these foods. But occasionally somebody will fail a drug tests when they have done no drugs at all, and this can be due to eating commonly available foods, like a poppy seed bagel or a hemp seed energy bar.

    I personally believe that we live in an alarmist time when drug testing is way out of hand. But that is not the issue here. If you eat poppy seeds or hemp snacks, you may possibly fail a drug tests. If this happens, you may lose your job. This is unfair in any case, but you will have to do some fighting to rectify things.

    By Chris Kilham
    Published October 19, 2010


  1. TheBigBadWolf
    AW: Food and Failed Drug Tests

    At rehab in 1999 the Wolf failed a opiate test because of having eaten poppy seed cake and was nearly thrown out of rehab for this false positive test. German poppy seed cake contains really a lot of poppy seeds, must have been about 60-70 g.
    Any SWIMmers aware of being randomly drug-tested should abstain from poppy seeds as well as hemp seed products.
  2. jon-q
    Poppy seeds led to drug test's false results

    Last time, it was a bagel with poppy seeds. This time, it's pasta salad containing the tiny kernels that caused a positive test for opiates at Jameson Hospital, and the subsequent seizure of a newborn from his mother by Lawrence County, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

    Eileen Ann Bower gave birth to a son, Brandon Brothers II, at the hospital on July 13, 2009, according to the complaint filed late Friday by attorney Stanley T. Booker. After conducting a routine urine test on Ms. Bower, the hospital sent word of a positive result to Lawrence County Children and Youth Services, it said, which took Brandon when he was 3 days old and kept him in foster care for 75 days.

    Ms. Bower realized only later that the result could be attributable to poppy seeds, which contain opium-like compounds, in the dressing of the Supreme Pasta Salad she ate at a picnic.

    Ms. Bower's accusation comes while New Castle mother Elizabeth Mort pursues a similar case against the hospital and county, accusing them of removing her child, Isabella, in April 2010 after a poppy seed bagel caused a false positive finding of opiate consumption.

    Both cases accuse the hospital of using a too-low threshold for deciding that a person has tested positive for drugs, and the county of ignoring due process before taking newborns. The county and the hospital have filed motions to dismiss Ms. Mort's case.

    Representatives of the county and hospital could not be reached for comment on Ms. Bower's case.

    Ms. Bower, 22, of New Castle, was at a barbecue, eating pasta salad moments before she went into labor, the complaint said. She went to Jameson's North Campus, where the test was conducted and she gave birth.

    According to Mr. Booker, Jameson's policy appears to call for reporting a positive drug test to the county when the level of opiates exceeds 300 nanograms per milliliter. That threshold is much lower than that used by the federal government, and Ms. Bower's result was even lower, showing only traces of opiate.

    Nonetheless, the hospital reported it, and the agency took the child, although Ms. Bower "pleaded that there must be some mistake, as she is not a drug user," the complaint said.

    "Eileen was forced to experience the unbearable: The forcible seizure of her infant son by the state without any justification and the fear that she might not get him back, the loss of the experience to breast feed and bond with her infant child, the emotional turmoil and stress she was forced to endure in hopes that one day she would be reunited with Baby Brandon," the complaint said.

    "The baby's doing well," said Mr. Booker, although "he just bursts out crying" when separated from his mother.

    The complaint against the county agency, its caseworker and Jameson Health System alleges negligence, invasion of privacy and violation of due process. It is assigned to U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.

    In October, Ms. Mort and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the county and the hospital over the seizure of her baby, Isabella Rodriguez.

    A mediation effort has failed, and the county and hospital have filed motions to dismiss the case. They said that governmental employees are immune from liability and the complaint doesn't spell out a constitutional violation. Judge David S. Cercone has not yet ruled on the motions.

    Rich Lord
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 19th July 2011
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