Sa Kaeo, January 17, 2012 [PDN]; Capt. Apinan Songkramchai and Pol.Lt.Col Benjapol Rodswasti of Klongluek police station, Sa Keao were searching for drugs and illegal goods at the entrance of Rongklear market at the Aranyaprathet checkpoint.
Suddenly they saw a Cambodian worker pushing a wheelbarrow from Poipet, Cambodia through Aranyaprathet border heading for Rongklear market. So the police searched the wheelbarrow and found rat meat, carcasses also entrails. Total weight 300 kilograms, divided in 5 kilogram plastic bag, the animal meat was covered under a plastic cover. When the police asked, the Cambodian worker he said, he was that it was rat meat from Cambodia that he was transporting to Thai merchants in Rongklear. About 3-4 metric tons per day.
Upon inspection the police found some the meat in some of the plastic bags had become dark green and smelled bad.
The Cambodian worker who did not tell his name said to the police that in the Poipet border area there are Cambodian merchants buying field rats from villagers who catch both field and house rats Eviscerate them and mix the meat. Market price for rat meat in Thailand is 50 THB per kilogram.
Mr. Vibul Srimankongtham the head of the Second Eastern Animal quarantine station said field rat carcasses transported from Cambodia in Rongklua were not under the jurisdiction of the Animal Livestock Department’s animal disease control bill, but under the department of agriculture Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. However the authorities of Animal Livestock Department, Sa Kaeo have collected samples of the rat meat laboratory analysis.
Mr. Niyom a 42 year old Thai merchant said that, he bought field rat meat and carcasses from Rongklear market and sold to retail outlets in many provinces. Most of the was grilled and sold from roadside stands. Niyom said, he did not did not know weather Cambodian rat meat was leptospirosis infected.
Upon interrogation Sok Wan the Cambodian worker who is paid for pushing the wheelbarrow said, everyday he pushed the wheelbarrow skinned and cut open the rats. About 300 kilograms per day from Poipet to Rongklear. He said, he had never been arrested.
Another Thai market vendor, who buys field rat meat from Rongklua said, rat meat had increased in popularity in Thailand, because so field rats in Thailand are becoming rare. Thai merchants now have to order the rats from Cambodia in eviscerated form and pay 70-100 THB per kilogram.
Totally 2-4 tons of imported rat meat per day. Thai shop owners will prepare the rat meat like grilled field rat, spicy field rat, rat meat soup etc. Cambodian field rat meat has increased in popularity especially in the Northern and the North Eastern area during the winter season. But the question remains – is it safe?