A popular Chinese restaurant chain has lost around $190m (£145m) in market value after a pregnant woman found a dead rat in her soup.
Hotpot restaurant Xiabu Xiabu’s stock hit its lowest level in almost a year, after photos of the dead rat being fished out of the broth with a pair of chopsticks quickly spread online.
The outlet in Shandong province has now been temporarily suspended.
The outlet reportedly offered her 5,000 yuan (£559, $729) as compensation.
According to local news outlet Kankan News who spoke to her husband – identified as Mr Ma – he declined the offer, as he wanted his wife to undergo a full body check-up before deciding on a compensation amount.
The pregnant woman who had been out for hotpot with her family on 6 September, found the dead rat in her meal after she had already taken a few bites from the dish.
Mr Ma also alleged that one of the staff had suggested his wife get an abortion if she was worried about the baby’s health, and offered him 20,000 yuan for the procedure.
Photos of the boiled rat quickly spread on Chinese social media site Weibo, where users reacted with anger and disgust.
“I feel like vomiting. I’m never going to eat hotpot outside again,” said one user.
On 11 September, the company’s share price hit its lowest level since October last year. As of Wednesday, the hotpot restaurant’s market value is slowly recovering.
“Xiabu Xiabu has always been one of my favourite restaurants, I thought they were quite clean as well… I can’t believe this,” another commented.
“If something happens to her baby how are they going to compensate her? Is a life worth only 20,000 yuan?” one asked.
The restaurant initially put out a statement on Saturday saying that it had “ruled out” the possibility that a lack of hygiene had caused the rat to end up in the hotpot, but later deleted it.
Authorities in Weifang city, the restaurant branch where the rat was found, said they would conduct investigations into Xiabu Xiabu’s restaurant.
Hotpot is a common meal in China and across other parts of Asia.
A simmering pot of hot soup is placed at a dining table and various vegetables and raw meats are then placed in the pot to cook.