A restaurant owner in western China has been arrested for adding parts of the poppy plant, from which opium is made, to his food, according to a local newspaper report.
Market supervision and food safety authorities in Chengdu, Sichuan province, launched an investigation into a popular hotpot restaurant last month after receiving a tip-off from a customer, the Chengdu Commercial Daily reported.
Authorities found substances suspected to be poppy shells – the bud of the plant in which poppy seeds are found – in a pot of home-made chilli oil in Xueshan Fast Food Restaurant.
Test results showed that the chilli oil, which was added to some cold dishes and noodles, contained addictive components including opiates.
Poppy shells have been a popular ingredient for hotpot sauce in China since the 1990s.
Authorities have long tried to curb the use of poppy shells, but many restaurants continue to use them secretly.
The restaurant owner, identified by his first name Dai, confessed he added the poppy shells to make his dishes taste and look better.
He said he bought the shells from a merchant for 10 yuan (HK$11.65) each, and made about 4kg of chilli oil with it in July.
The police are investigating.