4 May 2013

Arrests in China over rat meat scandal

3:01 pm on 4 May 2013

Hundreds of people have been arrested in China for crimes including selling rat and fox meat as beef and mutton.

News of the three-month operation added to a string of scandals that have galvanised public concern.

There were 382 cases of water-injected meat, fake mutton and beef, diseased meat, toxic and harmful meat products, the public security ministry said.

The crimes ranged from sellers in eastern Jiangsu province making fake mutton from fox, rat and chemicals, and others in southwestern Guizhou province mixing hydrogen peroxide solution with chicken claws.

In all 904 suspects were arrested and more than 20,000 tonnes of various types of fake or inferior meat products confiscated.

The public security ministry said the sting was part of a wider probe into food safety issues, from the discovery in March of thousands of dead pigs floating down a Shanghai river to the problem of "gutter oil".

Cheap recycled cooking oil is available nationwide made illegally from leftovers scooped out of restaurant drains.

One of China's greatest food safety scandals hit in 2008 when the industrial chemical melamine was found to have been illegally added to dairy products, killing at least six babies and making 300,000 people ill.