Claim: Photographs show rats being prepared for human consumption.
Status:Multiple — see below.
[Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Be very careful what you order at a restaurant; make sure it's what you want.
Be careful! ... It may LOOK like Chicken.
But is it REALLY Chicken??
[Collected via e-mail, 2007]
Amin's Chinese Halal Restaurant
57 William Street , Newark , NJ 07102
This restaurant got closed down yesterday. It was told by a reliable source that PSEG needed to use Amin's entrance in the basement to assist another shop that was having a gas leak, the service worker went into the basement of Amins and discover a butcher chopping meat, that's fine, but he was putting the meat in a crate on the floor (not good) but wait there's more, there were 20 dead rats on the floor. The service worker left the site told his boss and the city inspectors moved in. They noticed that the so called "rats" which were reported were no longer there. The inspectors then came across a padlocked door and instructed one of the cooks to unlock it. This is what they found other workers doing outside behind the restaurant.
And the killer is, they never thought they were doing anything wrong!
[Collected via e-mail, September 2007]
This was from a Chinese food place in Richmond (close to Vanc Airport).
Yaohan Center Food Court
Richmond, B.C. V6X.3X2
This restaurant got closed down yesterday. It was told by a reliable
source that Richmond City and Teresan Gas needed to use Golden's entrance
in the basement to assist another shop that was having a gas leak, the
service worker went into the basement of Golden's and discover a butcher
chopping meat, that's fine, but he was putting the meat in a crate on the
floor (not good) but wait there's more, there were 20 dead rats on the
floor. The service worker left the site told his boss and the city
inspectors moved in. They noticed that the so called "rats" which were
reported wer e no longer there. The inspectors! then came across a
padlocked door and instructed one of the cooks to unlock it. This is what
they found other workers doing outside behind the restaurant.
BURNING THE HAIR OFF THEM
WASHING THEM BEFORE COOKING
CUTTING THEM UP INTO PIECES THAT SIMULATE CHICKEN PARTS
PREPARED FOR DEEP FRYING
WELL SEASONED TO TASTE GREAT!
ALL DONE AND READY TO EAT!
RAT, THE OTHER "WHITE MEAT"
BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN EATING OUT AT YOUR LOCAL RESTAURANT!
Origins: We don't know the specific origins of the pictures displayed above, but they probably are real images of rats being prepared for human consumption somewhere in Asia. However, it's rather unlikely, as the text accompanying the photos implies, that the rats pictured are vermin rounded up off the street and foisted upon
unsuspecting diners as chicken.
The level of preparation and presentation pictured here is indicative of a restaurant (or perhaps a private home) in a part of China where clean, fresh, farm-captured rats are lavishly prepared and served to diners eager to consume rat-meat dishes. Indeed, in some parts of China rat meat sells for considerably more than chicken, pork, or beef.
In 2000, New Yorker reporter Peter Hessler journeyed to Luogang, a small village in China's Guangdong Province specifically because he'd heard Luogang was home to "a famous restaurant that specialized in the preparation of rats." Upon his arrival, he discovered there were two such restaurants (the Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant and the New Eight Sceneries Wild Flavor Food City) in the village, with a third under construction. Here are a few excerpts from his article, describing what he found out about the preparation and consumption of rats at those restaurants:
Besides rat, a customer at the Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant can order turtledove, fox, cat, python, and an assortment of strange-looking local animals whose names do not translate into English. All of them are kept live in pens at the back of the restaurant and are killed only when a customer orders one of them.
Many people come from faraway places. They come from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macao. One customer came all the way from America with her son. They were visiting relatives in Luogang, and the family brought them here to eat. She said you couldn't find this kind of food in America.
At the Highest Ranking Wild Flavor Restaurant, I began with a dish called Simmered Mountain Rat with Black Beans. There were plenty of other options on the menu — among them, Mountain Rat Soup, Steamed Mountain Rat, Simmered Mountain Rat, Roasted Mountain Rat, Mountain Rat Curry, and Spicy and Salty Mountain Rat — but the waitress had enthusiastically recommended the Simmered Mountain Rat with Black Beans, which arrived in a clay pot.
I ate the beans first. They tasted fine. I poked at the rat meat. It was clearly well done, and it was attractively garnished with onions, leeks, and ginger. Nestled in a light sauce were skinny rat thighs, short strips of rat flank, and delicate, toylike rat ribs.
"We're not eating city rats," [the restaurant's owner told me]. "The mountain rats are clean, because they aren't eating anything dirty. Mostly, they eat fruit — oranges, plums, jackfruit. People from the government hygiene department have been here to examine the rats. They took them to the laboratory and checked them out thoroughly to see if they had any diseases, and they found nothing. Not even the slightest problem."
I watched dozens of peasants come down from the hills, looking to get a piece of the rat business. They came on mopeds, on bicycles, and on foot. All of them carried burlap sacks of squirming rats that had been trapped on their farms. In Luogang, rats are more expensive than pork or chicken. A pound of rat costs nearly twice as much as a pound of beef.
In June 2007, someone used these pictures to accompany a story about the supposed closure of Amin's Chinese Halal Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey. The Newark Department of Health did order the closure Amin's in early 2007 due to unsanitary conditions related to food preparation and storage (including the presence of rodents), but these photographs have absolutely nothing to do with that closure. No employees at Amin's were spotted chopping up rats or preparing rat meat dishes for customers; in fact, inspectors didn't actually see any rats during their visit to that facility (just secondary signs of a rodent problem in the basement).
In August 2007, the same pictures and text from the June 2007 iteration were circulated again, this time with slight alterations to identify them with the Buffet City restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama. Soon afterwards, the text was updated again to reference the Yaohan Center Food Court in Richmond, British Columbia.
Last updated: 29 November 2007
Hessler, Peter. "A Rat in My Soup."
The New Yorker. 24 July 2000 (pp. 38-41).
WSFA-12 TV [Montgomery, AL]. "Montgomery Restaurant Victim of E-Hoax."