CALIFORNIA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning after reportedly an estimated 250,000 pounds of counterfeit rat meat that has been sold as chicken wings in grocery stores and restaurants across America.
FDA inspection team raised concerns after several containers originating from China and Japan 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 United States.
If hundreds of thousands of pounds of the meat has been seized and is to be destroyed by authorities, the FDA warns an estimated 250,000 pounds of the 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 store 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.
FBI coordinator, George Allen said, “Counterfeit meat sold as chicken wings is big money”
“Every year a similar situation arises. Last year we seized large quantities of opossum meat coming from Mexico,” he explains. “Criminal organizations see the Super Bowl 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.
As for the hundreds of thousands of pounds of estimated illegal counterfeit meat already on the market, FDA 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 2015 FDA study.