CHINA TOPIX

Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Noodle Shop Owners Punished for Using Poppy Seeds

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(Photo : Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) Poppy seeds (pictured above) are illegally used as a seasoning for foods served in Chinese restaurants.

A noodle shop owner was arrested for reportedly putting poppy seeds in her restaurant’s wonton soup.

The noodle shop owner, a woman identified only as Yang, was arrested on account of adding illegal poppy seeds to her wonton soup, according to the Pudong New Area People’s court. Use of opium poppy seeds as additives in food is illegal in China.

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It was also found that her business had neither a valid license nor a health certificate, and that it was operating under a false name. The shop was reportedly faking its identity and has operated under the name of a famous restaurant chain. Yang was slapped with a seven-month imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 yuan ($309).

Yang said she bought the noodle shop in 2013 and started to struggle with the business. A year later, however, she started putting poppy seeds in her noodles which led to a spike in sales.

Her son, who was found to be involved in the crime, was also punished with a four-month imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 yuan ($155).

Poppy Problem

The use of opium poppy seeds in food has been a problem in China for years as businesses kept using the illegal ingredient to keep customers coming back for more.

In January, 35 restaurants were accused of using the illegal ingredient to season their food.  These restaurants offered foods of different kinds ranging from noodle to dumplings. 

Poppy powder, which contains more opiates than common seeds found in bagels, can be purchased in western Chinese markets for a cheap price. It can be mixed with other ingredients such as chili oil and other powdered ingredients to avoid detection.

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