It’s one thing for a single restaurant to be caught using questionable meat in their food, but when the FDA becomes worried that there is an estimated 300,000 pounds of fake rat meat being disguised as chicken wings, then you know things are truly scary. Not only are they saying that these are being sold in restaurants, but also in grocery stores.
It all started with illegal containers from China which were seized by customs in the Port of San Francisco. The meat intercepted was intended to be shuttled off to different processing plants across the States, and to be sold as chicken. Turns out it was actually of rat origin.
Now this was hundreds of thousands of pounds discovered. An estimated 300,000 pounds of rat that was not discovered, may very well be circulating and likely could have ended up on many Super Bowl Sunday snack plates.
FDA inspector Ronald Jones talks about the increased surge in chicken wings during the popular sporting event:
“The Super Bowl is a period where chicken wings are in high demand and where restaurants and grocery stores often face a penury. 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.”
Fake meat is indeed big business. FBI coordinator Allen James reports the following:
“Every year a similar situation arises. Last year we seized large quantities of opossum meat coming from Mexico. 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.”
“No way to know for sure”
There seems to be really no certain way to know just how much rat is really out there, being gobbled up by chicken wing eaters. An FDA spokesperson, Jenny Brookside commented on the conundrum which exists between identifying rat versus chicken.
“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.”
It turns out the total of illegal fake meat which is sold in the U.S., comes out to be a whopping 36 million pounds! This according to an FDA study done in 2014.
It may be very hard to tell whether you are eating rat or chicken, as many wings rely heavily on sauces, often very hot, which would serve as the perfect mask for telling whether or not you are nibbling on actual rat. Get to know your wings in a natural state, without sauces or by wiping off the sauces. Compare your future wings by taking one out of the basket, wiping off the sauce, and taking a nibble to see if the taste is familiar.