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Rat meat passed off as lamb in China, report says

May 06, 2013|By Shan Li
  • In China, it might not be lamb you're eating. Chinese officials seized a mixture of rat, mink and fox meat that was in the process of being turned into imitation lamb meat.
In China, it might not be lamb you're eating. Chinese officials seized… (Javier Calvelo / EPA )

First it was tainted baby food and toys with lead paint. Now China is dealing with a meat scandal that involves passing rat meat off as lamb.

The Ministry of Public Safety announced recently that police have arrested hundreds of people involved in a scheme to sell a mixture of rat, mink and fox meat -- combined with red food coloring -- under the label "lamb."

More than 900 people and 200,000 tons of illegal meat were captured, according to state news agency Xinhua. The ministry said police had discovered nearly 400 cases involving meat violations.

In Wuxi, a large industrial city in eastern China, traders made an estimated 10 million renminbi (or about $1.6 million) from the fake lamb. The rat, mink and fox mixture had apparently been bought and sold to unsuspecting diners in Shanghai hot pot eateries since 2009.

In the Dazhong Daily newspaper, one expert said that the meat counterfeiters might have thrown in mink and fox obtained from fur farms who couldn't unload their meat legally, according to Bloomberg.

This latest incident is not the only time businesspeople in China have creatively faked one meat for another. In Liaoning Province in February, police said they arrested 34 suspects and captured 40 tons of duck combined with chemicals that had been sold as lamb.

The chemicals in that case were used, along with mutton grease, to make the duck meat taste like lamb and endure the high temperatures involved in hot pot cooking.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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