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By Joshua Gillin
A fake news story that said some 150 tons of rat meat may be sold as chicken wings to deal with high demand during the Super Bowl is actually a trap for unwary readers.
A Feb. 15, 2016, post on UrbanImageMagazine.com declared that “300,000 pounds of rat meat sold as chicken wings across America.” Facebook flagged the story as potentially being made up as part of the social media company’s crackdown on fake news.
Facebook said this particular post had been shared more than 178,000 times in the past year. We found other instances of the same story elsewhere, too.
The fake story said the Food and Drug Administration was issuing a warning about rodents being sold as chicken wings after several shipping containers of rat meat were impounded coming into San Francisco from China.
An official-sounding statement from the FDA warned that the rat meat coming into the United States was filtering into the food system to deal with a shortage of poultry leading up to the National Football League’s main event.
The story warned that Americans should be vigilant about what they are eating, because it’s supposedly hard to tell the difference between rat meat and chicken wings. We’d think the substitution would be easy to spot, but apparently rat is most often caught masquerading as lamb.
And while some east Asian cultures have been known to consume rat meat or pass it off as something else, we could find no reports of rodent flesh being impounded in San Francisco by the ton in 2016, 2017 or any other year.
The UrbanImageMagazine.com post cited as its source a Feb. 6, 2016, story from WorldNewsDailyReport.com, a known peddler of fake articles. The site admits as much in its disclaimer, referring to “the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”
The original story posted a day before the Super Bowl was played on Feb. 7, 2016, as a joke “warning” people of counterfeit chicken wings.
We contacted UrbanImageMagazine.com to ask if they knew the story was fake, but didn’t hear back.