A Chinese noodle shop owner was detained recently after it was discovered that he had been adding pieces of poppy plants to his noodles, with the goal of getting customers addicted to his restaurant’s food.
Poppies are the main ingredient in opium, for those who don’t know, a powerfully addictive depressant drug in the same vein (no pun intended) as heroin.
The shop owner, unnamed in the media, was held and questioned by police, eventually confessing that he had purchased 2 kilograms of poppy shells, worth about 600 yuan or US$96, in August for the purpose of getting customers hooked on food sold in his restaurant. He was detained for ten days.
Police were first alerted to the shop’s suspicious dealings after one customer, 26-year-old Liu Juyou, tested positive during a routine urine test in an anti-drunk-driving program.
Liu claimed he never touched illegal substances, but Chinese police held him in custody for 15 days, refusing to believe his outlandish story that the drug might have come from a noodle shop he frequented.
The truth came to light only when Liu asked his family to test his theory by going to the noodle shop and taking urine tests for themselves. Once they too came up positive, police looked into the noodle shop and found that Liu’s claims were true.
An anti-narcotics agent said that the chemicals in poppy shells or even poppy seeds (as established in one particularly memorable Seinfeld episode) can build up in the bloodstream enough to test positive on a drug test. If ingested over a long period of time, it could indeed become addictive.
Unfortunately, Liu’s appeal to end his detention has been dismissed by police. Even though they found the restaurant responsible, they said their priority was to detect drugs and punish drug users.