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.
If hundreds of thousands of pounds of
the illegal meat have been seized and
are to be destroyed by authorities, the
FDA warns an estimated 300,000
pounds of the counterfeit rat meat
might still be in circulation.
The products were registered for duty as
chicken produce, but inspectors of the FDA
rapidly noticed instead that the content was
of rat meat
“Summertime 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.
Big business
Counterfeit meat sold as chicken
wings is big money, admits FBI
coordinator, Allen James.
“Every year a similar situation arises.
Last year we seized large quantities of
opossum meat coming from Mexico,”
he explains. “Criminal organizations
see the summertime as a period to
cash in on different manners, be it
illegal bets or gambling but also
counterfeit meat. Where there is a
way to make money, there will always
be people who will try to find a way
to bypass the law and make some
profit,” he adds.
“No way to know for sure”
As for the hundreds of thousands of
pounds of estimated illegal counterfeit
meat already on the market, FDA
spokesman Jenny Brookside admits
there is no clear way for consumers to
see the difference.
“Unfortunately, it is too late for the
produce that has already been sold on
the market. It is up to consumers to
try to identify the quality and source
of the meat that is packaged, but there
is no absolute way of determining for
100% if the meat in your plate is
chicken or rat” she admits with
honesty. “If you find that your chicken
wings taste slightly different from
usual, it is a good bet that they might
be counterfeit meat, but this can be
easily hidden through the use of
different ingredients and spices,” she
acknowledges as a warning.
An estimated 36 million pounds of
illegal counterfeit meat is sold in the
United States each year according to a
2014 FDA study.