Los Angeles County Health Department inspectors uncovered whole raccoons being sold as meat at the Metro Supermarket in the Temple City neighborhood.
This isn’t a case of accidental contamination like the horsemeat scandal that plagued Europe last year; these were entire raccoons, frozen and bagged and selling for $9.99 a pound.
According to CBS2, which broke the story, a customer, Christina Dow, was shopping in the market and noticed the frozen raccoons. She took video of them on her mobile phone and shared it on social media, alerting the Health Department.
“The way it’s packaged in the store, it’s so real, and it’s so fresh, and you don’t see chickens with their feathers and blood all over them, and their expression, with their tongue hanging out,” Dow said to CBS.
LAist took a slightly different approach to the story: “The latest in cultural panic comes to us this week from Temple City, where a supermarket has pulled frozen raccoons from their shelves after a complaint from a customer who's not used to seeing meat with the head still on.”
Eating raccoon meat, like eating dogs, is a common delicacy in China. But whether or not it’s illegal in LA county is still unclear. According to CBS2, a number of local health agencies, and the LA County District Attorney’s office could not confirm whether “selling raccoons as food was legal or not.”
Employees of Metro Supermarket told CBS that the store has been selling raccoon meat “for years” without any issue.
The LAist writer points the finger at Dow for the investigation, criticizing her for a lack of exposure to world culture, “Christina Dow freaked out because it was her first time in an ethnic supermarket. Next time go to Ralphs, lady."
An ethnic food or not, though, source is an issue for a number of reasons, including the safety of the raccoon “meat.” Animal products are inspected by the USDA in the U.S. for safety and humane treatment. Raccoons imported illegally, or worse, trapped here on the streets of LA, could put consumers' health at risk.
Raccoons, like dogs and pigs, are incredibly smart animals, capable of crafty problem-solving and mischief.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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