Chinese Restaurant Caught Putting Opium in Their Food

Illustration for article titled Chinese Restaurant Caught Putting Opium in Their Food

Have you guys ever had really good Chinese food? No, I mean, like, really good — so good you'd sell all your worldly possessions for another taste of that sweet, sweet General? My fix, man! I NEED MY FIX.

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Ahem. Anyhow, one Chinese restaurateur decided to take a shortcut to achieve that addictive flavor and, instead of taking the time to prepare consistently delicious food, he elected to just dump some opium in there, according to CNN. A restaurant owner in Shaanxi Province identified only as "Zhang" ground opium up into powder and used it in his noodles, which is well-known to be a vast improvement over MSG.

This gets a lot less funny (if unsurprising) when you consider how the police figured out what Zhang was doing: during a routine traffic stop of a customer of Zhang's named Liu Juyou, the police tested the hapless noodle fancier for opium, because individuals' rights are something the People's Republic heard of once, but didn't really think was for them. Juyou was then detained for two weeks until police had tested several of Zhang's other customers (the story doesn't say whether they were likewise detained, although it's China, so we can probably safely assume so) and figured out that unless all these opium addicts were really, really into the same noodle place, something was probably going on.

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Zhang is now in police custody awaiting, I don't know, presumably a trial. Does China even have those? Given that the customer who unwittingly ingested opium was in for two weeks, I assume Zhang will be sentenced to 732 years hard labor.

Image via svry/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

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Every couple of years I read some variant of this story. Either it's an urban legend that won't die, news outlets keep returning to an old story without realizing it's old, or China has a serious problem with noodle shops putting opium poppies in the food. CNN claims that it's a reoccurring problem, noting earlier stories in 2010 and 2012. I'm kind of skeptical, though. Opium poppy latex, the active bit, is quite bitter. To get a sufficient quantity to have an effect on people, you're going to notice that taste, especially if it's coming from the addition of the dried plant, as the stories consistently allege. Though I'm not even sure you could get anything from the dried remainders, anyways - the latex is pretty much gone at that point. If the stories are true and it is being added, it's likely not actually having any sort of effect on customers. On the other hand, opiate tests are often lousy enough that even small quantities of eating poppy seeds will cause you to test positive, so if someone did put any poppy bits in the soup, you probably would get in trouble if someone gave you a drug test.