A Fengtai restaurant owner was sentenced to eight months in jail for seasoning his restaurant’s hotpot with poppy shells. The man, surnamed Wang, reportedly purchased the seeds at the Xinfadi Wholesale Market.
The seeds, known as dayanke powder, are illegal in China due to their close effective resemblance to opium. Even in small amounts, the powder can have an addictive effect that keeps diners coming back for more. Despite the ban, dayanke powder seems to be quite popular among restaurant owners – one shop owner in the Xinfadi market claimed to sell over 500 packets of the seasoning every day. Dayanke powder also seems to be available for purchase on Taobao.
Earlier this year, five Beijing restaurants, and an additional 25 restaurants nationwide, were investigated for adding opiates to their food. Several of these restaurants were located on Gui Jie, including Huda Restaurant, which has four other Beijing locations, and Baoheju Restaurant.
Wang’s sentencing and the recent investigations of restaurants indicate that the government is renewing efforts to stamp out the sale and recreational use of opiates in all forms, regardless of how tasty (and addictive) it might make your hot pot.