In the past year, China has constantly been at the forefront of news with one food safety issue after another. Not too long ago, the inspections boards were turning away or destroying imports by the boatload because the items were not deemed acceptable.
The newest scandal didn’t involve any import but was completely local and rather nauseating.
In China, like almost every other country in the world, rat meat is considered unacceptable as a food source. Despite any popular stories that may make their rounds in the US, the Chinese restaurants do not serve up rat dishes or offer mouse appetizers.
Rodents, rats specifically, carry a wide variety of different diseases and illnesses that could transfer over if meat from the animals is eaten. That's why rats have never been considered an acceptable food. Additionally, the notion of eating rat is simply something most people simply can't digest.
Crime Ring Discovered
In the past few weeks, the Chinese police broke down a crime ring that was selling rat meat and claiming that it was mutton. This ring, according to public records, sold more than $1 million of this meat under the guise that it was lamb. More than 900 different people have been arrested as a part of the scandal. According to records, the sellers were using various additives to make rat, fox, and mink taste different and then selling them throughout the Shanghai and Jiangsu provinces.
More than 20 tons of meat was confiscated as a part of the bust of several different food plants throughout the country. This isn’t the first case of food safety violations and consumer concern in China. In fact, several other situations have arisen leading to immense consumer fear throughout China. In April of this year, the H7N9 bird flu virus broke out in the country, which affected the sales of chicken since consumers feared becoming ill from the poultry. In March of this year, local pig farms dumped pig carcasses into the Huangpu River after overcrowding lead to death. This is the main water source for Shanghai.
The rat problem has made the news specifically because consumers were duped into eating something that could be truly dangerous when they thought they were purchasing premium meats.
Australia and New Zealand emphasize using locally grown food products, especially meats. The FSANZ has strict rules about any foods that are imported into the countries and inspections are being held constantly to ensure consumers aren’t subjected to this kind of issue.