A string of restaurants discovered using poppy capsules for seasoning have exposed a shocking practice in China’s food industry. On Wednesday [27 January 2016], authorities busted a noodle restaurant for adding the potentially-addictive poppy capsule into mutton noodles in Yulin City, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, according to the local Huashang Newspaper…Full Article: Xinhua Jan 2016

Key Points

  • In January 2016, 35 Chinese restaurants/snack bars were under investigation for the use of illegal food ingredients, including poppy capsules. Two of the restaurants/snack bars under investigation sold “Zhouheiya” branded products.
  • In general, the offending restaurants/snack bars use poppy capsules in “heavily flavored” meals such as hotpot, grilled fish, fried chicken, as well as in ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate or MSG) powder or in sauces/condiments (e.g. spicy oil) used by customers.

ChinaAg Comments

  • The poppy capsule is the dry fruit chaff of the opium poppy flower (i.e. the globular flower head minus the seeds).
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, poppy capsules are used to treat chronic coughing, diarrhea, and other lung/intestinal ailments.
  • Chinese law forbids the use of poppy capsules in food, however, as of October 2014, it was possible to purchase capsules (retail and online) for approximately CNY 400 (US$65) per kg.
  • Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Wuhan, Hubei Province, Hubei Zhouheiya Food is a producer and distributor known for its duck meat products. The company sells its products in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou, Nanjing, and Nanchang.

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