Shunde Renjia Restaurant says their Snake Bitten Chicken meal (chicken that has been killed by snake venom) is popular, healthy and keeps the customers wanting more.

A restaurant in China on Tuesday defended a controversial practice of killing chickens with snake bites, saying the resulting dish was healthy and kept the customers flooding in.

The reaction came after claims of animal cruelty spread on the Internet in relation to the speciality, known as “Snake-bitten Chicken” and popular in Guangdong province in the south and Chongqing municipality in the southwest.

“We’ve been offering the dish for many years and our customers keep coming back,” said a staff member at Shunde Renjia Restaurant in the Guangdong city of Foshan, who gave only her surname Zheng. “This is our most successful dish.”

She explained that after heating, the snake toxin turns into an enzyme that can help keep the human body warm and clear blood vessels. “Some TV reports said the dish was poisonous, but still people come in to eat,” she told AFP by telephone. “Yesterday some parents even brought their kids to eat the dish.”

The online criticism, which follows newspaper reports last week, has been extremely harsh, with some blasting people who eat and prepare it as “barbarians.”
“You eat everything. May you catch snake flu,” said one posting on popular website v.ku6.com. According to a report in the Chongqing Business Daily last week, authorities there are investigating the practice and will order restaurants to stop serving the dish, but the paper gave no timetable.

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