Rat causes Chinese restaurant chain to lose £145 million in value

The rat was found in hot pot broth at a Xiabu Xiabu restaurant in the city of Weifang. Source SCMP

The rat was found in hot pot broth. Source SCMPMore

An inspection was immediately undertaken at the restaurant but no trace of rats were found. Over the years, rats falling from the ceiling and climbing up customers trousers at hot pot restaurants around China appear to have done little to diminish Chinese diners' appetite for the simmering soup.

After video footage of the dead rat in the woman's soup circulated on social media, the chain's shares dropped by 12%, losing £145m in value to reach its lowest level since October past year, before regaining value. 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. Ma alleges that restaurant staff offered the couple cash for an abortion if they were anxious about the health of the baby after eating the rat soup.

On 11 September, the company's share price hit its lowest level since October previous year. The company's shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday, gaining around three per cent. Traditionally eaten as a family meal in winter, hotpot is a national favourite, and chains selling it are growing in popularity.

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It was under such circumstances that the rat was dredged from swirling, red-hot broth.

They put out a statement Saturday saying they'd "ruled out" that lack of hygiene caused the rat to end up in the soup - but then deleted it.

A company representative, Catherine Gao, later said that the chain was cooperating with the authorities. Ms Gao said the chain had always taken great care over the quality and safety of its food.

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An official watchdog organisation in Weifang had ordered the Xiabu Xiabu branch to suspend its services for "improvement".

The chain opened in 1998 and was listed on the Hong Kong market in 2014, with 759 shops across China.

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