At least 35 restaurants in China have been charged with seasoning their dishes with opium, the highly addictive drug derived from the opium poppy. Heroin and morphine are also derived from the poppy.
Among the nearly three dozen restaurants found guilty of spiking their menus with the dangerous opioid — plus papaverine, morphine, codeine, and noscapine — were noodle shops, hot pot restaurants, a fried chicken shop, and several others.
It is not clear whether sprinkling opium powder on foods actually makes them addictive, but the practice of seasoning powdered poppy on food is not entirely uncommon, though it is illegal. In 2014, the owner of a noodle shop in China was detained for using opium powder to “improve business.”
A press release issued on Wednesday, January 20, by China’s Food and Drug Administration, states that because these restaurant owners engaged in crimes including the production and sale of potentially toxic foods, the matter is being considered a criminal investigation.