Opiates found in 35 food companies' products, including popular snack chain
China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) announced on Thursday that they have caught 35 catering companies using illegal food additives, including two chain stores of a famous company that sells snacks made from ducks, Zhou Hei Ya.
The administration noted that they had identified traces of opiates like morphine and codeine, which are contained in poppy shells - the bud of the plant in which poppy seeds are found - in these companies' products, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.
According to a CFDA officer on Thursday, five of the companies have already been transferred to local public security bureau and prosecuted. Two Zhou Hei Ya stores in Suzhou, East China's Anhui Province were on the list.
Meanwhile, Zhou Hei Ya denied owning the two chain stores on its official Sina Weibo account on Thursday, saying "the two Zhou Hei Ya stores in Suzhou, Anhui Province are not Zhou Hei Ya's chain stores. All Zhou Hei Ya chain stores are under shared corporate ownership. And Zhou Hei Ya has never permitted any individual or company to open a franchise in Anhui Province."
The company said that Zhou Hei Ya's name and logo are well-known trademarks, and those who use them without permission are violating the company's rights. Zhou Hei Ya said it will take appropriate legal actions against such infringement.
In the statement, the company also asked the media to clarify the facts and expressed its support for this crackdown on illegal food additives.
Another 30 companies are still under investigation.
Adding poppy shells to food products could lead to a maximum penalty of a five-year jail term under China's laws.