What will you do as a restaurant owner in order to boost your business? Well, to attract more customers, of course. And how do you plan to do that? Simple way will be “repeat sales”, meaning to ensure customers will return for your delicate food and beverages. In the old days, the magic potion would be “Ajinomoto” or MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate. Just add MSG to your food and your customers would be under your spell.
That’s fine but it was so yesterday. Nowadays, every single restaurants have been over-using MSG so much so that customers would probably avoid such places due to health conscious. Besides, it’s so easy to know if a certain restaurant depends solely on MSG instead of naturally cooked food. But what if restaurants use “opium” to make tasty noodles? Well, that was what a customer found out the hard way – in China.
Apparently, a customer, 26-year-old Liu Juyou, was stopped by traffic police and given a routine urine test for drugs. Liu had the biggest surprise in his whole life when the results came back positive. He has never touch any illegal drugs before. Eventually, after being detained for 15-days from September 3, he suspected the culprit could be the restaurant that he had its noodle hours before he was stopped by the law enforcers.
In order to verify his theory, Juyou persuaded his family to eat at the noodle shop located in Yan’an, in Shaanxi province. Then, they submitted themselves for drug tests. The results – all of them were tested positive. They alerted the police, who then launched an investigation at the restaurant. The shop’s owner – Zhang – eventually admitted to adding some “spices” to his noodles.
Zhang told the police that he bought 2kg (4.4lb) of poppy buds – which contain the plant’s seeds – for US$100 (£60; HK$ 757; RM320) last month, crushed them into a powder and started to add the new formula to his noodles. In reality, this was an old gimmick used as far back as in the 1990s. By adding such “seasoning” to the noodles, the addicted customers would eventually return to the shop hence repeat business.
Flashback Aug 1991 – Beijing health officials closed down 92 noodle shops and food stalls in an eastern city for lacing their dishes with opium. The shops in Luoyang in the eastern province of Henan put opium poppy seeds in the dishes in their attempt to get customers addicted to their food. Authorities had confiscated 1,490 pounds of opium poppy pods and 31 pounds of opium poppy seeds from the restaurants.
Police said the unprocessed seeds contain enough opiates to gradually build up in the body and eventually trigger a positive drugs test result. Interestingly, poppy seeds used to be a popular ingredient in Chinese hot pot sauce until their use was banned. Unfortunately, despite finding the restaurant culpable, Liu’s appeal against his detention was dismissed by police, who said their priority was to detect drugs and punish drug users.
Perhaps Liu Juyou has eaten the noodles at the wrong place at the wrong time. Now is the crackdown season where the Chinese police have step up efforts against illegal drugs. They have new mission and over the past six months, they have arrested more than a dozen celebrities on drug-related charges. Among them – famous mainland screenwriter Ning Caishen, director Zhang Yuan and of course Jaycee Chan, the son of Kung Fu icon Jackie Chan.
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