A hotpot restaurant in eastern China has been shut down and a pregnant woman is undergoing health checks after a dead rat was found in a family’s meal.
Authorities in Weifang, Shandong province, have suspended the branch of popular hotpot restaurant chain Xiabu Xiabu in the latest in a string of food safety scandals in China.
A man from Weifang surnamed Ma said he and his family were eating at the restaurant on Thursday night when, after a few bites, his wife found a dead rat in the soup.
Ma told Shanghai-based Kankan News that restaurant staff had told him: “If you are worried about the baby, then we'll give you 20,000 yuan (US$3,000) to abort it.”
On Sunday, the Market Supervision Bureau of Kuiwen district, Weifang, confirmed on its official WeChat account that it had received a complaint about a rat in hotpot soup on Friday.
An immediate inspection of the restaurant did not uncover traces of rat but officials did find some accumulated water in the food processing areas and some of its vegetable suppliers did not have full qualifications.
The bureau shut down the restaurant temporarily while it improves its procedures.
In a statement on Saturday night, Xiabu Xiabu said it had always placed great emphasis on food security and would make any necessary improvements.
Xiabu Xiabu, which opened in 1998, was listed on the Hong Kong market in 2014 and has 759 stores in China, with many in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and other provinces.
Coincidentally, Jiangsu Television reported that last Tuesday a woman from Nantong, Jiangsu province, suspected there were maggots in her hotpot at an unnamed restaurant.
The woman said she was halfway through her dinner when she found quite a few white worms in the soup. She immediately called restaurant staff who told her they were high protein and swallowed a worm to show her. There were no reports on whether authorities had intervened.
Over the past few months, authorities and hotpot chains have taken measures in response to a number of cases which have highlighted hygiene and food safety issues at restaurants.
In May, popular hotpot chain Xiaolongkan, which has more than 700 outlets in China plus three in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, said it had shut down three restaurants after media exposure that they were reusing cooking oil as well as leftover food from tables.
Last year the Haidilao chain offered a live-stream video feed from their kitchens for customers wishing to keep an eye on how their food was being prepared. That followed similar media exposure of two of its Beijing restaurants for rats and rotten food.