China FDA Shuts Down Chinese Restaurants For Lacing Foods With 'Opium' Seasoning

The China Food and Drug Administration (China FDA) has cracked down on a string of restaurants after discovering foods were being "seasoned" with opium. According to the Independent, approximately 35 Chinese restaurants, including a popular Beijing food chain, are at the center of controversy after it was determined that customers were consuming foods laced with opium poppies. However, that's not all.

The China FDA also shut the restaurants down due to other drugs found in foods being served to patrons. "Papaverine, morphine, codeine, noscapine, thebaine poppy shell and other components there is suspicion of illegal behavior added," according to the statement released by the China FDA, translated to English via Google Translate.

The list of restaurants apparently affected are as follows:
Suzhou City Zhou black duck sink Mongolia intersection shop, Yongqiao Suzhou City, Hui Peng Zhou black duck stores; Huiyang District, Huizhou City, Guangdong Province, the old iron fish; Chongqing Hechuan small town of Mianyang famous noodle, Hechuan small town of Mianyang Tianxiadiyi powder.
It has been reported that the unusual and dangerous practice was done in an effort to draw customers. The concept centered around "hooking" customers to embellish their dining experience. Apparently, the restaurant chains saw the addictive ingredient as one that would reel customers in so they'd spend more and more money on the delectable dishes. However, the China FDA isn't too fond of the unconventional marketing tactic. At this point, the China FDA hasn't pinpointed how the opium poppy plants were transferred to the food, but there is speculation that it was grounded and sprinkled on.
According to Complex magazine, one kilogram of poppy powder can be purchased in China for approximately $60, so the minimal investment may have seemed quite attractive to restaurant owners. Poppy powder, which comes from shells and capsules, contains a higher grade of content than seeds found on bagels.
The China FDA investigation has reportedly taken time because powdered opium can be extremely difficult to detect, which is why many restaurants have gotten away with lacing foods with the additive. Even with the help of a laboratory, the powdered substance is almost undetectable when mixed with chili oil, which is a common ingredient used in Chinese cuisine.
The latest report follows another incident that occurred in recent years. According to Medical Daily, a noodle vendor was arrested back in 2014 after his foods failed a drug test. He later admitted he'd laced his foods with powdered poppy plant to ensure customers came back. The China FDA has been closing in on businesses performing improper food practices for quite some time. Chinese consumers, unfortunately, face food scares more often than not.

From tainted baby formula to artificial food products like fake meats and fruits, and even seafood injected with gelatin, food safety issues have reportedly come in many different forms. In fact, the ongoing epidemic has also spanned further than China when a Shanghai-based food supplier to large food chains like KFC, Starbucks, and McDonald's came under fire for selling unsanitary chicken meat, according to BBC News.

Out of the 35 restaurants that were recently shut down, 30 are currently being investigated and face the possibility of prosecution. Do you think charges should be filed against the restaurants being investigated? Share your thoughts.

[Image via Sean K /]