Chinese Restaurants Shut Down For Using Opium Powder As ‘Seasoning’
Thirty-five restaurants across China have been accused of illegally using opium powder as seasoning in their food.
According to China’s food and drug administration, five restaurants are being prosecuted and 30 others are under investigation, reports the Independent.
Apparently, cooks adding ground poppy powder – which contains small amounts of opiates such as morphine and codeine – to soup and seafood is nothing new in China, but it’s unclear whether it can actually get you addicted or give a buzz.
According to the Guardian, seven restaurants were closed in Ningxia province in 2012 for using the additive, and Guizhou province shut down an astonishing 215 restaurants in 2004.
Hu Ling, the general manager of Huda, a chain with several locations in Beijing, confirmed that the company was under investigation, saying it may have unknowingly sourced seasoning containing opiates.
According to a 2014 report by the official Xinhua news agency, the poppy powder can be easily purchased in markets for about $60 (£42) a kilogram.
The additives are often mixed with chilli oil and powders, making the food incredibly more-ish and the drug hard to detect without laboratory equipment.
China is no stranger to food scares, and recent high-profile cases include tainted baby milk, seafood pumped with gelatin and, most notably, in 2014 a Shanghai-based supplier to KFC, Starbucks and McDonald’s was found selling unsanitary and out-of-date chicken meat.