Skip to Content

Expert: Impossible to get ‘high’ eating poppy seeds

by April 14, 2016 General

KUALA LUMPUR: It is impossible to get “high” eating poppy seeds found in food, says an expert.

Universiti Malaya’s Centre of Addiction Sciences director Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid said poppy seeds had long been used as an ingredient in curries.

“The amount used is very minimal,” he said, noting that he himself had been taking curries with poppy seed for years.

Asked how much poppy seeds were needed to get “high”, he said “an insane volume like, maybe, a gunny sack full”. Dr Rusdi said the consumption of poppy seeds would not show up in the urine under a rapid drug test kit, even after a large amount was consumed.

“Poppy seeds have very mild opiate effects that do not cause any significant clinical manifestation,” he added.

He also ruled out the chances of a person being addicted to poppy seeds in food.

“In my years of research, I have not come across any case of poppy seed addiction,” he said.

A search on the Internet shows that there have been overseas cases of false positive drug test results claimed after ingestion of poppy seeds, especially in cases of pre-employment drug screenings.

This was the case claimed by New Zealander Peter Corkill, who said eating four slices of toast with poppy seeds caused him to fail his pre-employment test and cost him a job at an oil refinery last year.

Although the ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) report noted that poppy seed ingestion could have explained the result, it was too late for Corkill to get the job.

In a notable 2010 case, Elizabeth Mort of Pennsylvania, United States, had her newborn baby taken away by the authorities for five days after she tested positive for opiates. She claimed the result was due to eating a poppy seed bagel – and a court agreed, later awarding her damages of US$143,500.

Countries that have banned poppy seeds are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Singapore and Tai­wan.