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April 26, 2017

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Restaurants closed for opium poppy in dishes

The soup wasn't just good. It was downright addictive.

Narcotics police in southwestern China shuttered 215 restaurants found to be mixing opium poppy into their soups and hot pot stews, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Dishes at the restaurants in Guizhou province contained varying degrees of the opium derivative morphine, the report said.

"Consuming soup or hot pots mixed with poppies for a long time will make you become addicted ... and eventually lead you to drug abuse in serious cases," Wei Tao, deputy chief of the Food Institute with Guizhou Provincial Center for Disease Control, was quoted as saying.

The raids also resulted in confiscation of 3.2 kilograms (7 pounds) of poppy seeds and 1.7 kilograms (almost 4 pounds) of poppy husks, the report said.

Ravaged by opium addiction prior to the 1949 communist revolution, China has seen a new wave of drug addiction following economic and social reforms that began in the 1980s.

Xinhua didn't say whether anyone was prosecuted over the narcotic-laced food. In 2002, a Beijing restaurant-owner was sentenced to 18 months in prison for sprinkling ground opium poppy over a spicy fish dish.

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