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Mouse heads found in canteen lunch boxes in China highlight food safety concerns

BEIJING — For the second time in a month, a mouse head has been found in a lunch box meal of a cafeteria in China, state media reported on Tuesday, sparking online witticisms and a larger debate about food safety in the country.

The head of a rodent was found in a lunch box in the cafeteria of Xiushan county’s traditional Chinese medicine hospital, according to state media, citing a statement from the market regulation bureau of the county in Chongqing municipality.

A video posted online showed the mouse head in a dish of moyuya, or duck stewed with konjac, a local specialty, according to China Daily.

The hospital said its cafeteria catering is outsourced to a third-party provider through government bidding and had never encountered such an issue before, according to the report that cited local media.

When contacted by Reuters, a hospital official who did not want to be identified by name, told Reuters to refer to an “official report,” without elaborating.

It was the second time a mouse head had apparently found its way into a dish this month after a student at Jiangxi Industry Polytechnic College in Nanchang posted a video of “an object with teeth, eyes and nose” in his rice dish at a college cafeteria on June 1, according to the South China Morning Post.

Officials at the college could not be immediately reached.

On social media, people expressed concerns over food security following the two incidents.

“From now on, cafeterias should install cameras and play surveillance video at the dining hall,” said one user on China’s Twitter-like site Weibo.

In 2022, the State Administration for Market Regulation said 518,600 cases of food safety violations were investigated and dealt with nationwide.

Although food safety in China has improved in recent years, inspections by market regulators of products last year did find problems more common among agricultural products and in the catering industry, according to state media. — Reuters

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