|Butcher preparing meat|
(Scroll down for video) If you have recently bought some lamb meat in order to prepare a delicious dinner but found it to taste rather strange, it is because it wasn't lamb meat, according to a statement released by the Chinese government.
Chinese police have broken up a gang accused of taking meat from rats and foxes and selling them as lamb meat, in the latest scandal of the country's food security.
The Ministry of Public Security released the results of a three-month campaign against violators of food safety, which showed that authorities are investigating more than 380 cases and arrested 904 suspects.
Among those arrested were 63 people who allegedly ran the operation in Shanghai and the coastal city of Wuxi. They are accused of buying fox, mink, rat and other meat that has not been tested for quality and safety, processed with additives like gelatin and passed off as lamb.
The meat was sold at farmers markets in Jiangsu Province and Shanghai, the statement said.
Despite years of food scandals, from milk contaminated with an industrial chemical, to using industrial dyes in eggs, China has been unable to clean up their food supply chain.
The announcement came as China's top court on Friday issued guidelines which call for more severe punishment for the preparation and sale of insecure food in the last response to contaminated food scandals that have angered the public.
China's Criminal Code, which prohibits harmful and poisonous foods, does not specify what acts are considered a violation of the law.
Baby Food adulteration that severely lacks nutrition is also a punishable offense under the guidelines. Negligent government inspectors are also subject to criminal sanctions.
“With all the scandals lately, from the horse meat scandal to the rat meat scandal, I find it difficult to trust any food label these days. I do not know where to purchase food anymore. Maybe I will need to raise my own animals,” Herminia Whitley, 30, of Blue Mountains, Australia told YourJewishNews.com after learning about the rat meat scandal.
The Supreme Court said that 2,088 people have been prosecuted from 2010 to 2012 in 1,533 cases of food security. It said that the number of cases has grown exponentially in recent years. For example, Chinese courts tried 861 cases of food poison in 2012, compared with 80 cases in 2010.
"The situation is very serious and in fact has caused great harm to people," Pei Xianding a supreme court judge, said during a news conference.Mobile video not loading? Click here to view