A Shanghai restaurant owner has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for using a common bagel ingredient in his cooking.
According to Shanghaiist, poppy seeds are a banned ingredient in China. Though they are generally considered safe when eaten on top of the world’s muffins and bagels, they can contain opiates picked up through contamination while being harvested, but most of that is usually removed when the food is processed.
Still, poppy seeds are illegal in China, so Zhou Huaming, who owns the Longbai Chending Chicken restaurant in Shanghai, was handed a prison sentence and a fine of 5,000 yuan, or about $800, for adding them to soups and sauces served at his restaurant. His business license was also taken away, and he’s been banned from operating a food business for five years.
According to the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, Zhou’s poppy-enhanced food was reportedly found to contain morphine from the seeds he was using. He’s not the first restaurateur in China caught enhancing his food with poppy products. Not too long ago two restaurateurs in Guangzhou were caught intentionally adding an addictive, poppy-derived powder to dishes to make customers crave them more.
Normal poppy seeds, however, are generally considered safe. So if you live somewhere where they are not illegal, check out some of our best poppy recipes for some good ways to enjoy them.