Rat in broth wipes a fortune from the value of the Chinese restaurant chain

Hong Kong: At hotpot restaurants in China, most ingredients are relatively cheap. Customers dip pieces of raw meat and vegetables into a large container with simmering broth until everything boils and bubbles to the surface.

For one Chinese restaurant chain, however, it turned out that an article found by a customer at one of his stores is extremely expensive: a rat.

A video of a small, dead rat – boiled, gelatinous and with its stunning outstretched arms – fished out of a bowl of bubbling broth has shocked China and the shares of a popular restaurant chain have plummeted.

The rat was found last week in a branch of the chain, Xiabu Xiabu, in Weifang, a city in the eastern province of Shandong. A local newspaper reported the incident on Friday and video footage from the customer who removed the rat with chopsticks that circulated on Chinese social media throughout the weekend.

By the end of trading on Tuesday, the shares in the parent company of the chain, Xiabuxiabu Catering Management, had almost dropped by 12.5%, at one point in almost a year to their lowest point. In all, the discovery of the rat had knocked about $ US190 million ($ 264 million) of the market value of the company, which is publicly traded in Hong Kong. The company's shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday and reached about 3 percent.