China busts restaurants using poppy capsules for seasoning

Beijing, Jan 22 (IANS) A total of 35 restaurants and snack bars nationwide were investigated for adding poppy capsules or other illegal ingredients to food, said China’s top food safety regulator here on Friday.

Owners of 25 restaurants have been transferred to the public security department for criminal investigation and, among them, five will be prosecuted, said the China Food and Drug Administration. The other 10 were still under investigation by the administration, Xinhua reported.

It has been an “open secret” in the Chinese food industry that poppy-derived powder was used as a “secret ingredient” at some small restaurants in dishes or hotpots to improve the taste and lure customers to come back for more.

Long-term consumption of poppy capsules, controlled by the state as a narcotic, can lead to addiction, damage the nervous system and cause chronic intoxication.

Adding poppy capsules to food was prohibited by China’s Food Safety Law, and the Chinese government has taken a “zero tolerance” policy toward violations.

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