Rat Wipes $190M Off Restaurant Chain's Value

Hotpot video went viral in China
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2018 3:28 AM CDT
Updated Sep 13, 2018 6:37 AM CDT
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Hotpot, sans rat.   (Getty Images/yanmiao)

(Newser) – Hotpot, a bubbling vat of broth in which diners dip pieces of meat and other morsels, is a beloved family meal in China, especially when the weather starts to cool down. But not when there's a rat in it. The Xiabu Xiabu hotpot chain saw its stock dive more than 12% this week, wiping around $190 million off its value, after a diner at one of its restaurants found a dead—and presumably well-cooked—rat in the broth, the Telegraph reports. Video circulated widely on social media in China, to the shock and disgust of viewers, shows the man in the eastern city of Weifang fishing the boiled rodent out of the murky broth with chopsticks.

Hotpot restaurants have become extremely popular in China in recent years, though customers have complained about hygiene issues including the recycling of broth with new diners, the New York Times reports. Xiabu Xiabu, which has more than 300 outlets across China, released and then deleted a statement saying it had "ruled out the possibility that an unhygienic environment has caused the rat to appear." Authorities said the Weifang branch had been ordered to close for "improvements" after inspectors determined that it had committed violations including buying food from unlicensed suppliers. (Other food scandals in China have included feathers and fox hair in cooking oil.)

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