BEIJING – Chinese health authorities are putting a stop to restaurants serving chickens that have been bitten to death by poisonous snakes and cooked up for a supposedly detoxing meal.
The dish, served by a small number of eateries in the southern province of Guangdong and the southwestern city of Chongqing, has generated a storm of publicity and controversy in the Chinese media and amongst bloggers.
A video showing a cook holding a snake and forcing it to bite a live chicken until it dies has been widely circulated online, generating mainly angry comments.
"It's disgusting and really cruel," wrote one poster on the popular portal sina.com.cn.
"Not only is it cruel and blood-thirsty, but totally amoral," the Chongqing Business Daily cited a neighbor to one of the restaurants as saying.
Health authorities in Guangdong have already told restaurants to stop serving "poisonous snake-bitten chicken" and now those in Chongqing have joined in.
"Although nobody has been poisoned, this at the very least is an irregular way of slaughtering poultry," the business newspaper quoted a local health official as saying.
One dish, prized among some in Guangdong, is monkey brains scooped from a live animal, which has regularly upset animal rights campaigners in the West.