Guangzhou Bans Opium from Restaurants After Surprise Discovery

Some restaurants in the southern business metropolis of Guangzhou have resorted to spiking their dishes with opium, possibly in an effort to make them more addictive as well as flavorful, according to the Yangcheng Evening News.

Last June a spot inspection of 70 city restaurants by the Guangzhou Food and Drug Administration turned up two whose dishes contained poppy powder, the same substance used to make opium, a highly addictive narcotic that has long been banned in China under harsh penalties, including death. The poppy powder was traced to bags used to marinade meats.

Initially the kitchen workers of the two restaurants claimed that the marinade had been delivered pre-contaminated with poppy powder. Under intense questioning they later recanted and admitted that they had added the poppy powder.

Fortunately the concentration of poppy powder was low enough to allow the city to be lenient. Both restaurants were let off with a formal warning and a fine of 50,000 yuan ($1,700). The cases prompted the city to add a new regulation banning the use of poppy powder in food at any concentration.

The city also issued a warning to the public that poppy powder may have been added to dishes that are exceptionally fragrant and flavorful. The warning also warned of the danger that food marinaded with poppy powder is especially susceptible to being contaminated during storage and food preparation.