Chinese authorities have arrested 63 people involved in an operation that allegedly sold more than $1 million in rat, fox, mink and other meat as lamb, USA Today reported.
According to Chinese police, the suspects used additives to disguise the flavor of rat, fox and mink meat and sold it at markets in Shanghai and Jiangsu province.
The arrests were part of a three-month crackdown on food safety violators. Since the end of January, 904 suspects have been arrested for selling and producing fake or tainted meat products and more than 20,000 tons of fake or inferior meat products have been confiscated, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Following the announcement, China's Supreme People's Court issued new guidelines calling for harsher punishment for food safety-related crimes.
"The situation is really grave and has indeed caused great harm to the people," Pei Xianding, a supreme court judge, said. "We cannot tolerate it any longer. We must punish the criminals severely, or we cannot answer to our people," Pei said.