A Chinese restaurant chain lost around £145m in market value after a pregnant woman found a dead rat in her soup.
The rodent was found at the fast food restaurant Xiabu Xiabu, famous for its hotpots, in Weifang, a city in the eastern province of Shandong.
The pregnant woman was dining at the chain with her family when she fished the boiled rat out of the broth she was eating with a pair of chopsticks.
The woman’s husband, named as Mr Ma, said restaurant staff had told him: “If you are worried about the baby, then we’ll give you 20,000 yuan to abort it,” according to Shanghai-based Kankan News.
The outlet in Shandong has been temporarily shut down following the find last week.
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 last year, before regaining value.
Users of Chinese social media site Weibo reacted to the photos and video with disgust, with one person writing: “I feel like vomiting. I’m never going to eat hotpot outside again.”
Another shocked user said: “If something happens to her baby how are they going to compensate her? Is a life worth only 20,000 yuan?”
An inspection was immediately undertaken at the restaurant, but there was reportedly no trace of rats.
However inspectors found that some of the restaurant’s suppliers did not have proper qualifications.
The restaurant released a now-deleted statement on Saturday saying that it had “ruled out” the possibility that a lack of hygiene had caused the deceased rat to end up in the hotpot.
Hotpots are prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table and contain a variety of east Asian foodstuffs.
Typical ingredients in hotpots include thinly sliced meat, tofu, vegetables and seafood.