At hotpot restaurants in China, most of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive. Customers dip pieces of raw meat as well as also vegetables into a big vat of simmering broth until everything cooks as well as also bubbles to the surface.
For one Chinese restaurant chain, however, an item found by a customer at one of its outlets has proved to be particularly costly: a rat.
A video of a little, dead rat — boiled, gelatinous as well as also with its stunned arms outstretched — fished out of a vat of bubbling broth has shocked China, as well as also sent shares of a favorite restaurant chain plummeting.
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The rat was found last week at a branch of the chain, Xiabu Xiabu, in Weifang, a city inside the eastern province of Shandong. A local newspaper reported the incident on Friday as well as also video footage of the customer picking the rat out with chopsticks circulated on Chinese social media all weekend.
By the close of trading on Tuesday, shares inside the chain’s parent company, Xiabuxiabu Catering Management, had fallen almost 12.5 percent, at one point dropping to their lowest in nearly a year. In all, the discovery of the rat had knocked about $190 million off the market value of the business, which can be publicly traded in Hong Kong. The company’s shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday, gaining around 3 percent.
The rat appeared when hotpot has been enjoying something of a moment in China. Traditionally eaten as a family meal in winter, hotpot can be a national favorite, as well as also chains selling This particular are growing in popularity. Xiabu Xiabu as well as also one of its rivals, Haidilao, have reported surging sales as well as also an expanding network of restaurants.
The cuisine’s setup can be similar to fondue, with customers sitting round a table centered on a large vat of simmering broth, which adds flavor to the toppings, as well as also can be concentrated to the point of being opaque.
This particular was under such circumstances which the rat was dredged coming from swirling, red-hot broth.
Xiabu Xiabu initially released a statement Saturday night saying which This particular had “ruled out the possibility which an unhygienic environment has caused the rat to appear,” nevertheless which statement was later deleted.
A company representative, Catherine Gao, later said which the chain was cooperating with the authorities.
“We have set up a task force to carry out an in-depth investigation into This particular incident, as well as also will also invite third-party authorities to help us clarify the truth,” she wrote in an email. Ms. Gao said the chain had always taken great care over the quality as well as also safety of its food.
The market supervision bureau, an official watchdog organization, in Weifang has ordered the Xiabu Xiabu branch to suspend its services for “improvement.” In a statement published on Sunday on the Chinese messaging platform WeChat, the bureau said which while This particular found no traces of rats, the restaurant had committed violations related to stagnant water as well as also buying food coming from unlicensed suppliers.
Though hotpot has gained in popularity in recent years, customers across China have complained about questionable hygiene standards at hotpot chains, particularly over restaurants reusing hotpot broth with brand new customers.