Weary travelers should be wary of "lamb" delicacies in China: They might contain hairy, garbage-eating, plague-carrying, back alley-lurking rats.
China's Ministry of Public Security announced Thursday that it arrested 904 people in a campaign to crack down on fake beef and mutton, the Xinhua News Agency reports.
In a three-month period beginning in January, Chinese police seized 20,000 metric tons of "illegal" meat products.
Criminals in Wuxi, a city near Shanghai, allegedly earned $1.62 million selling "mutton" to markets that was actually fox, mink and rat meat treated with chemicals, Xinhua reported.
Other cases disclosed by Chinese police involved water-injected meat and the use of dangerous chemicals in processing.
Authorities are now reportedly turning their attention to China's milk market as the country moves to modernize its food regulations. In the United States, food regulations were adopted after the 1906 novel "The Jungle" described poisoned rats being shovelled into sausages and other unscrupulous business practices.
The Guardian reports that fake mutton is easily distinguishable from the real thing. If fake frozen mutton is thawed its red and white streaks come apart and "look like they were pieced together," the paper explains. When real mutton is cooked "the meat tightens up," whereas fake mutton tends to fall apart, according to the Guardian.