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Sun, Dec 03, 2006 - Page 12 News List

New York City food inspectors find `mystery meat' markets unpalatable

From iguana meat to live frogs, the appetite of New York City's diverse population for exotic foods is raising fear of potential health hazards

AP , NEW YORK

"It's subject to the vagaries of whoever is processing the food. Who's watching?" he said.

In a city filled with people from all over the world, the law can get lost in translation.

At the West African Grocery -- where "smoked rodent" was found -- the owner failed to explain why he was selling the mysterious meat, saying he could not speak English.

At another market in Brooklyn called Chang Xiang Trading, the manager shrugged her shoulders when confronted with reports showing the store has sold illegal pork, chicken and ducks. Her English was not good, she said.

Sung Soo-kim, president of Korean American Small Business Service Center of New York, says it is hard to change centuries-old eating habits.

Kim runs a state-approved food safety education program and has delivered seminars to the Korean community about food laws.

Corby says that one way to get businesses to comply with the program is ordering them to take a state-approved food inspection course.

If all else fails, Corby will get a court injunction and close stores, something the state did 66 times last year and 72 times through September this year.

"We either clean them up or close them down," he said. "There is a high standard that is applied. We'd rather have it too high than too low."

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