Rat served in Asian Restaurant Hoax
Email claims that a popular restaurant in the US city of Atlanta has been shut down after the owner was caught accepting shipments of rats and mice to use in meals (Full commentary below
(Submitted, January 2005):
Subject: FW: [Psp] POPULAR RESTAURANT SHUT DOWN ! ! ! ! !
This is for you chinese food eaters
THIS IS NOT CHICKEN.. LOOK HARDER...
A popular Asian/Chinese restaurant bistro here in Atlanta was closed
down this morning after authorities received a tip that the owner was
accepting shipments of rats and mice from a vendor to prepare in his
dishes. The owner and his wife were arrested early this morning and
charges are not known at this time. After a full search of the kitchen,
authorities found, packaged rats, mice, kittens, puppies and a large frozen hawk.
The restaurant is a popular gathering spot for local celebrities such as Whitney Houston
andhusband Bobby Brown, Jermaine Dupree, Janet Jackson, Usher, Monica,
Puffy, TI, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Toni Braxton, TLC and others. The
restaurant has locations off Peachtree Road and Alpharetta near North
The email forward included above claims that a popular restaurant in Atlanta has been shut down by health authorities. Supposedly, shipments of rats, mice, kittens and puppies were discovered in the restaurant's kitchen ready to be served as Asian dishes to the establishment's high profile guests. The email includes photographs featuring trays of rodents supposedly ready for use in the eatery's kitchen.
However, it is not difficult to identify the email as a hoax:
- Some time spent in Google Image Search quickly reveals that the very same images are shown on Dumerils.com, a site that supplies food for pet snakes.
- There does not appear to be any mention of the restaurant closure in the mainstream media. If an eatery frequented by celebrities such as Whitney Houston was really serving rat meat to it's patrons, it would almost certainly be a top story in newspaper and TV news, not only in Atlanta, but also around the world.
- Like similar hoaxes, the email is quite vague when it comes to details. The restaurant or its owners are not named, the actual date of the supposed closure is not stated and no collaborating reference material is supplied.
In fact, this hoax is just another manifestation of a long-standing urban legend that unfairly maligns Asian restaurants. Here in Australia, vague stories about cats or rats being used as a secret substitute for chicken at Chinese eateries have circulated for many years. There is the yarn about the town where a lot of pet cats have gone missing until the mystery is solved when sanitation workers find cat skeletons in the local Chinese restaurant garbage bins. Another tells of the suspicious Asian restaurant patron who takes a sample of his "chicken" to be analysed only to discover that he or she has been eating cat or rat or another animal that Westerners would not normally consider eating. These stories are almost always passed around orally and are never substantiated.
Write-up by Brett M. Christensen