On 15 February 2016, the web site Urban Image Magazine published an article reporting that 300,000 pounds of counterfeit chicken wings sold prior to that year's Super Bowl were actually rat meat (i.e., "Rat Meat Sold as Chicken Wings at SuperBowl").
However, the source cited by the web site was World News Daily Report, a well-known peddler of fabricated news. On 6 February 2016, that web site had published the claim just ahead of the 7 February 2016 football championship event:
San Francisco, CA | The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned about an estimated 300,000 pounds of counterfeit rat meat that has been sold as chicken wings in restaurants and grocery stores across America.
FDA inspectors raised concerns when several illegal containers originating from China were seized by customs at the Port of San Francisco and were found to contain rat meat that was meant to be shipped to different meat processing plants across America and resold as chicken ... the FDA warns an estimated 300,000 pounds of the counterfeit rat meat might still be in circulation and could finish in American plates during the Super Bowl this Sunday.
“The Super Bowl is a period where chicken wings are in high demand and where restaurants and grocery stores often face a penury” explains FDA inspector, Ronald Jones. “This is where the illegal market comes in. Although there is nothing dangerous about consuming rat meat if it is properly cooked, United States laws prohibit the import and sales of rat meat as a comestible item,” he adds.
As with all of World News Daily Report's articles, the claim had no basis in truth. The article used an unrelated image published online in 2014, itself unrelated to chicken wings or the 2016 Super Bowl. The "chicken wings are rat meat" claim was swiped in 2017 by the fake news site Now44News. And as of November 2017, the "rat meat as boneless chicken" yarn was still going strong on social media, with two iterations continuing to make the rounds:
We have learned that United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now very concerned that an estimated one million pounds of rat meat.
Which is being passed off as “boneless chicken wings,” has been sold in restaurants and grocery stores across America.
According to reports, FDA inspectors raised concerns after several illegal shipping containers originating from China were seized by customs at the Port of San Francisco.
It was found to contain rat meat that was meant to be shipped to different meat processing plants across America and resold as chicken.
(FDA) US Food and Drug Administration is now very concerned that an estimated a million pounds of rat meat,which is passed off as “boneless chicken wings”, was sold in restaurants and stores across America.As mentioned in the reports of the FDA inspectors have expressed concern after several illegal container originating from China were seized by customs at the port of San Francisco.It was found to contain meat of rats that was meant to be delivered to a variety of meat processing plants across America and resale as chicken.
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However, in March 2017 the Food and Drug Administration addressed and debunked the story:
U.S. officials didn’t seize thousands of pounds of imported rat meat prior to the Super Bowl and they never issued a warning saying restaurants and food stores could be selling it as chicken wings, despite reports shared widely on multiple websites.
The stories claim federal customs officials at the Port of San Francisco seized several thousands of pounds of rat meat imported from China. They also mention an FDA warning that some 300,000 pounds of rat meat could still be in circulation as Super Bowl parties approached.
FDA spokesman Peter Cassell told The Associated Press that the agency “is not aware of the seizure of rat meat referenced” and the FDA never issued such a warning. The stories quote two agency officials, but the FDA has no record of any current or past employees with those names, Cassell said.