Cane rat and other ”potentially unsafe” meat has been sold at a Hackney market, according to a BBC London undercover investigation.
In undercover filming on the Ridley Road market, the BBC team found butchers willing to sell cane rat, a large sub-Saharan rodent, to a researcher.
Hackney Council enforcement officers last inspected butchers’ premises for illegal meat in 2009.
Cane rats and other so called ‘bush meats’ are a common problem across the UK in communities with a high West African population.
There is concern that these meats are imported illegally and are not subject to proper inspection and could, therefore, be contaminated.
The Food Standards Agency says the primary concern to public health from illegally imported ‘bush meat’ such as cane rats is from food pathogens which are likely to be destroyed during cooking.
The filming took place in a handful of premises and there is no indication that the practice is undertaken by all the traders at the market.
When confronted with the footage the traders all denied having sold the meat to the BBC researcher.
Councillor Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “Hackney Council’s team of Environmental Health Officers make regular visits and inspections of over 1,000 businesses across the borough, including those on Ridley Road.
“Since 2009, we have only received a single complaint regarding the sale of illegal meat, which upon investigation was inconclusive.”
Stewed Cane Rat
First, burn away the rat’s skin with a blowtorch.
Then leave the rat to cool down.
When it’s cool enough, clean the rest of the skin off with a steel wool.
Eviscerate the rat and split it lengthwise.
Fry until brown in a mixture of butter and peanut oil.
Cover with water, add tomatoes or tomato puree, chillis and salt to taste.
Simmer the rat until tender.
Serve with rice.