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December 31, 2010

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FDA to check on use of poppy shells in hotpots

SHANGHAI will kick off a city-wide sweep of hotpot restaurants to combat the illegal use of poppy shells in soup to make it more tasty and addictive to eaters, a practice that has been detected in some other cities.

Poppy shells are the outer covering of the flower's fruit.

Officials from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that although restaurants will be required to show where they have bought raw materials so that they can be inspected, a national standard on flavoring essence residue still does not exist. Locals should avoid small hotpot restaurants due to food safety concerns, officials said.

"Checks on poppy shells in hotpot restaurants are regular practice," said Du Bing, an official at Shanghai FDA. "Poppy shells haven't been detected in years. An outlet will be shut down if it is found using them."

Compared with poppy shells, many illegal food additives and chemicals being used in other provinces are more difficult to detect.

According to recent media reports, hotpot restaurants in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, add a variety of synthetic compounds to make the pot's base broth.

The additives are put in to give the dish a fragrant aroma, a spicy taste and also a bright-red look -- some of them can cause a danger to health.


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