Chinese state officials say that thirty-five restaurants across China, including a popular chain of hot pot restaurants in Beijing, have been found using opium as seasoning in their food. The China Food and Drug Administration won’t say how or why the opium was placed in the restaurant food, but it is believed (based on past cases) that the chefs are trying to “hook” customers on their food and keep them coming back for more. Opium of course, is a narcotic that is highly addictive, and can be easily added to food by sprinkling it with opium poppy seeds.
According to Medical Daily:
“The administration released a statement this week saying that dozens of restaurants were under investigation for seasoning noodles, hotpot, grilled fish, and fried chicken with the substance, and five of the establishments had already been prosecuted. According to the regulator, the poppy derivatives (which have been banned since 2013) included codeine and morphine.”
All thirty-five establishments have been closed.
This isn’t the first time Chinese restaurants have tried the trick either. In 2014, police in China discovered a noodle seller that was lacing their meals with opium and in 2004 a string of 215 restaurants across the country were closed down following similar charges. The restaurants are typically caught after customers inexplicably fail drug tests.