Chinese officials have busted a crime ring that passed off rat and small mammal meat as mutton. The group was arrested for passing off the meat, which consisted of rat, fox, and mink; the ring made a total of $1.6 million in sales since 2009.
According to reports, police confiscated the meat, which was a total of 22.046 tons, after breaking up the ring, which included processing plants across the nation. Unfortunately, fake food sales have been a consistent problem in China and have led to outbreaks of illness throughout the country.
"Food safety crimes are still prominent, and new situations are emerging with new characteristics," a statement from the Ministry of Public Security read on its website.
The Ministry has arrested 904 people since January for participation in the sale of illegal meat or food crime. Since February, there have been 10 cases cracked wide open after years of investigation by authorities. The ministry has said it will do what it can to combat the sale of illegal meat.
Jiangsu Wuxi Wei was one of the leaders arrested for the manufacture and sale of fake mutton. According to the Ministry, Wei had been selling fox, mink, and mice meat to the Soviet Union, Shanghai, and other farmers' markets across the country.
China is currently experiencing an outbreak of H7N9 bird flu, which has killed 26 people since March. Authorities have had to shut down numerous live poultry markets.
"We need to stay on high alert as this is a new virus and we don't have all the information," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned the public, according to China National Radio. "It looks preventable and controllable now, and there is no evidence showing human-to-human transmission."
In March, more than 16,000 rotting pigs were found floating in a Shanghai water source. The news led to public revulsion, and it was revealed that over-crowding at pig farms was the likely culprit for the pigs' death.