Is This the Reason Some Restaurants in China are Serving Opium?

Opium, poppies, restaurants in china, Dr Lynn Webster, MD The China Food and Drug Administration is investigating 35 restaurants in China for potentially using powdered (and possibly addictive) opium poppies to season their food. They detected morphine and codeine as well as other poppy derivatives in the food.

The Chinese restaurants involved might view using powdered poppies as an innocuous way to keep patrons returning, in the same way as U.S. fast food restaurants use salt, fat, and sugar to ensure that customers keep coming back.

However, it’s not the same thing.

There is nothing innocuous about using powdered poppies as seasoning.

I am not sure what effect small amounts of heroin will have on those who patronize the restaurants that use it, but we know that the Bayer company sold opium at the turn of the 20th century. The company marketed it as a cure for everything. Until it wasn’t.

Heroin used to be a treatment for alcohol addiction, until it caused a worse addiction.

In the 17th century, English doctor Thomas Sydenham called laudanum (a mixture containing opium) “the most valuable drug in the world.” But his colleague, John Jones, declared that long-term use would cause “intolerable anxiety, and depression and a miserable death.”

I’m glad to see that the China Food and Drug Administration is taking the problem seriously. Restaurants will likely keep using ingredients that increase their profits until they’re legally prevented from doing so. They may not understand how dangerous opium is. But history has shown us, repeatedly, that not understanding the gravity of the action doesn’t mitigate the consequences.

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Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD
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