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Social media revives false claim about rat meat sold as chicken

January 13, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: One million pounds of rat meat is being sold as boneless chicken wings in the U.S.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image containing the claim has been used to create false posts about rat meat since at least 2016. A photograph featured in the image depicts a vendor in Thailand selling rats and is more than a decade old.

THE FACTS: An old image designed to look like a TV news graphic, claiming that one million pounds of rat meat is being deceptively sold in the U.S. as chicken, began circulating again on social media platforms in recent days.

In a version on Instagram, which has received over 65,000 views, graphics and text resembling a cable news chyron are shown over an image of cooked rats. “BREAKING NEWS,” it reads before claiming that a “million pounds” of rat meat is being sold in the U.S. as “boneless” chicken wings. The image also appeared on Facebook and Twitter.

“This is why we’re having a spike in rona ... I’m not eating no types of chicken,” one Facebook user who shared the image on Tuesday wrote in a post. Similarly, a Twitter user wrote on Thursday, “Disturbing news of the day currently happening 1 million pounds of rat meat being sold as chicken.”

However, an image search shows the graphic has been appearing online since at least 2016, including in blog posts sharing the same previously debunked claim that a large volume of rat meat is being marketed and sold as chicken.

Past iterations falsely claimed that U.S. officials confiscated thousands of pounds of imported rat meat at the Port of San Francisco, and that the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that retail chicken wings may actually be rat meat.

But the agency told The Associated Press in 2017 and 2018 that the claims are false. There are no recent legitimate media reports covering rat meat being disguised as chicken in the U.S.

Additionally, the photo that is featured in the graphic is an image showing a vendor in Thailand selling rats that was posted on Wikimedia Commons. The site says it was taken in 2007, and has been on Wikimedia since at least 2010.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.