popular hot pot restaurant chain has seen its stock price plummet after the discovery last week of a rat at the bottom of one pot of bubbling broth.
The boiled rodent was found at a Xiabu Xiabu location in Weifang, Shandong province on September 6th. Its discovery received particular attention online because of the way that the restaurant’s staff chose to deal with the situation. Reportedly, the owner offered 5,000 yuan in compensation until hearing that one of the diners was pregnant. This revelation caused the offer to be upped to 20,000 yuan so that the woman could get an abortion.
Quickly, the story spread online, along with video and images of the rat being fished out of the hot pot with a pair of chopsticks, thoroughly sullying the name of Xiabu Xiabu, a generally beloved Beijing-based chain with hundreds of outlets across China.
By September 11th, the company’s stock price had dropped by over 12 percent, causing it to lose 1.3 billion yuan ($190 million) in market value. Since then, its stock has been gradually recovering.
The local market supervision authority has launched an investigation into the incident and the outlet where the rat was discovered has been shut down. Xiabu Xiabu had released a statement which declared that it was “impossible” that a lack of hygiene at the restaurant was to blame for the rat’s appearance, but that statement was deleted a short time later.
Still, Xiabu Xiabu likely has little to worry about in the long run. Over the years, rats falling from the ceiling and climbing up customers pants at hot pot restaurants around China appear to have done little to diminish Chinese diners’ appetite for the simmering soup.