China Meat Scandal: Rat Meat Served as Mutton in Shanghai’s Famous Hotpot

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By Athena Yenko | May 6, 2013 9:39 AM EST

Have you been in Shanghai over the last four years and had a lamb or mutton for hotpot? Chances are you have eaten rat, fox or mink. No big deal for some who loves the exotic cuisine, but for most people this news is appalling.

A Shanghai-area gang lead by a man named Wei was arrested for selling rat, fox and mink as mutton, The Guardian Beijing reports. The gang used gelatin, nitrate and carmine to create a mutton-like meat out of rats, fox and mink and have earned a whopping $1.6 million selling "muttons" at a market in Jiangsu province and Shanghai.

"We hear of restaurants and consumers shifting to more aquatic products and beef and mutton" said US meat export federation Joel Haggard after the March pork scandal where 16,000 pig carcasses were found floating in a river in Shanghai. But as with the latest meat scandal, the Chinese and tourists are close to having nothing to eat.

In response to the alarming meat related offenses that hit China, China court decided to impose harsh penalties for those who are guilty of selling food with high chemical content and meat from animals which died from disease. The penalty enacted is an effort of the China government to show people that they are all efforts in guaranteeing food safety for the people.

Apparently, people were unconvinced. In a Chinese microblogging site called Sina Weibo, people had expressed strong opinions against the government and disgusts to businessmen.

One user wrote, "Apart from black-hearted businessmen, some government departments may be inept - even colluding with them.

Without the supervision of common people and stricter punishments, this type of thing will be hard to get rid of." Another user wrote: "If Chairman Mao were still here, these people would be dragged outside and shot. Even their family members should hang their heads in shame."

This rat-meat scandal had literally taken tourists all around the world at the edge of their seats.

But in response to this, Foreign Policy came out of a blog to help people tell the rat from their mutton. Foreign Policy sought the help of Laura Ginn who organized a rat-themed five course dinner in New York last year.

1.        It smells like rat.

Rat meat has distinct smell to it that gives out its "rodent" odor. This odor smells like urine and the good news is that no amount of cooking can ever completely get rid of the smell.

2.        It tastes like rat.

It is pungent and gamey.

3.        It tastes delicious when brushed with a moonshine glaze and barbecued.

This one is tricky, but once the meat smell something rodenty and the barbeque is gamey and pungent but still tastes delicious, people better be checking for the moonshine glazed ingredients.

4.        You're in Asia.

Although a large majority of Asians are not rat-eaters, there are certain regions where people thus eat rats which are found in rice fields that feed on crops and not on garbage. These rats are safe to eat unlike those found in sewers and dumps that carry disease. 

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