The term "wet market" came into common use in Singapore in the early 1970s when the government used it to distinguish such traditional markets from the supermarkets that had become popular there. The term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in 2016, as a term used throughout Southeast Asia. The OED's earliest cited use of the term is from The Straits Times of Singapore in 1978.
The "wet" in "wet market" refers to the constantly wet floors due to the melting of ice used to keep food from spoiling, the washing of meat and seafood stalls and the spraying of fresh produce.
The term "public market" may be synonymous with "wet market", although it may sometimes refer exclusively to state-owned and community-owned wet markets. Wet markets may also be called "fresh food markets" and "good food markets" when referring to markets consisting of numerous competing vendors primarily selling fruits and vegetables. The term "wet market" is frequently used to signify a live animal market that sells directly to consumers, although the terms are not synonymous.
Although the term "wet market" may refer to markets that sell wild animals and wildlife products, it is not synonymous with the term "wildlife market" which exclusively refers to markets that contain wildlife products.
The term "wet market", which specifies markets that sell fresh produce and meat, includes a broad variety of markets. Wet markets can be categorized according to their ownership structure (privately owned, state-owned, or community-owned), scale (wholesale or retail), and produce (vegetables, slaughtered meat, live animals). They can be further subcategorized based on whether the meat inventory originates from domesticated or wild animals.
Traditional wet markets are typically housed in temporary sheds, open-air sites, or partially open commercial complexes, while modern wet markets are housed in buildings often equipped with improved ventilation, freezing, and refrigeration facilities.
Wet markets are less dependent on imported goods than supermarkets due to their smaller volumes and lesser emphasis on consistency. Wet markets have been described as "critical for ensuring urban food security", particularly in Chinese cities. The influence of wet markets on urban food security include food pricing and physical accessibility.
Researchers have highlighted the lower prices, greater freshness of food, negotiation opportunities, and social interaction spaces as key reasons for the persistence of wet markets. The persistence of wet markets has also been attributed to "culinary traditions that call for freshly slaughtered meat and fish as opposed to frozen meats".
In developing countries with agriculture-based economies, fresh meat is mainly distributed through traditional wet markets or meat stalls. Wet markets selling fresh meat are often attached to or located near slaughter facilities.
Wet markets are a common sight not just in mainland China but across Asia.
In Hong Kong, for example, there is a widespread network of wet markets where thousands of locals shop everyday for their meat and vegetables. There is one in almost every district and none of them trade in exotic or wild animals.
Similar markets can also be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Some wet markets, however, can provide an outlet for the trade in exotic wildlife, which according to a 2017 Chinese government report was worth more than $73 billion.
But the trade, while lucrative, is by no means mainstream. The consumption of wild meats is not common, especially in big cities, and consumers often have to travel to specific sites to purchase rare or exotic animals.
After SARS authorities in several provinces tried to tackle the wildlife trade, banning the sale of some animals such as civet cats and snakes, but many of the bans either weren’t enforced or were quietly removed.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese government temporarily banned the trade of wild animals for food in late February and is currently drafting a permanent law to further tighten controls.
According to Chinese state-run media Xinhua, at least 94% of mainland China’s wet markets had been reopened as of March 22. It remains unclear, however, how many of those have completely stopped trading wild animals.
“In the face of Covid-19, it is understandable that around the world there are calls for shutting down all wet markets,” said Duan Biggs, senior research fellow in the Environmental Futures Research Institute at Australia’s Griffith University.
“However, a complete ban is unlikely to be a sustainable solution to this risk — as earlier failed attempts at bans and shutdowns show. Instead, new policies and regulations need to incorporate scientific evidence together with consideration of different cultural perceptions and values towards wildlife, wildlife trade and consumption.”
Traditionally, consumers in China have long favored fresh produce, preferring to make several trips to a market each week to buy meat, fish and vegetables, rather than driving to a supermarket for a weekly shop. But in recent years, like everywhere else globally, wet markets have lost ground to supermarkets, especially among younger consumers.
Online grocery stores, backed by internet giants who have cash to burn and sophisticated logistics systems, are also gaining ground.
Even older generations, who have a lifelong habit of shopping in wet markets, are being lured to new services such as Alibaba’s Hema (Freshhippo) with generous discounts and pledges for safety and traceability of its produce. Hema alone had 197 storefronts in China by the end of 2019.
Travel restrictions during the virus have accelerated the trend away from wet markets. Online grocery stores become a daily necessity when people across China were locked down in their homes.
Eliam Huang, analyst at Coresight, said the outbreak forces users to adapt to the trend otherwise they would be hesitant to do so. “The crisis makes people more prepared for the techy future,” she said.
But for now, discouraging people from using wet markets altogether is not a viable solution. University of Sydney’s environmental and humanitarian engineer Petr Matous said that wet markets play an important role in food security for many low income communities, both in China and globally, who don’t have access to online options.
“Abolishing wet markets may give the illusion of solving the cause of the current situation but the real problems are deeper than that,” he said in an email.
In China, close contacts between humans and food animals have resulted in the transmission of many microbes from animals to humans. The two most notable infectious diseases in recent years are severe acute respiratory syndrome and avian influenza. In this review, these two severe zoonotic viral infections transmitted by the respiratory route, with pandemic potential, are used as models to illustrate the role of Chinese wet-markets in their emergence, amplification and dissemination.
Two research groups independently discovered the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-like viruses in horseshoe bats. An astonishing diversity of coronaviruses was also discovered in different species of bats. For the recent and still ongoing avian influenza H5N1 outbreak that originated in Southeast Asia, from 2003 to 21 April 2006, 204 humans have been infected, with 113 deaths. Most patients had recent direct contacts with poultry.
In Chinese wet-markets, unique epicenters for transmission of potential viral pathogens, new genes may be acquired or existing genes modified through various mechanisms such as genetic reassortment, recombination and mutation. The wet-markets, at closer proximity to humans, with high viral burden or strains of higher transmission efficiency, facilitate transmission of the viruses to humans.
Wet markets that sell live animals can risk creating the types of dangerous conditions where viruses can spread from animals to humans, due to the close quarters and potentially unsanitary practices — especially, if they keep rare animals or those captured from the wild, experts say.
The 2003 SARS epidemic, for example, was linked to the sale of civet cats in Guangdong province.
Most wet markets, however, are not virus petri-dishes filled with exotic animals ready to be slaughtered.
For a large proportion of people in China and across Asia, they are just places to go to buy fresh food, such as chicken, pork, fish and vegetables, at affordable prices.
Dog breeds used for meat
Main article: Nureongi
The Nureongi (Korean: 누렁이) is a yellowish landrace from Korea. Similar to other native Korean dog breeds, such as the Jindo, nureongi are medium-sized spitz-type dogs, but are larger with greater musculature and a distinctive coat pattern. They are quite uniform in appearance, yellow hair and melanistic masks. Nureongi are most often used as a livestock dog, raised for its meat, and not commonly kept as pets.
Main article: Polynesian Dog
Main article: Hawaiian Poi Dog
The Hawaiian Poi Dog or ʻīlio (ʻīlio mākuʻe for brown-furred Poi dogs) is an extinct breed of pariah dog from Hawaiʻi which was used by Native Hawaiians as a spiritual protector of children and as a source of food.
Main article: Tahitian Dog
The Tahitian Dog or ʻūrī Mā’ohi were a food source, and served by high ranking chiefs to the early European explorers who visited the islands. Captain James Cook and his crew developed a taste for the dog, with Cook noting, "For tame Animals they have Hogs, Fowls, and Dogs, the latter of which we learned to Eat from them, and few were there of us but what allow'd that a South Sea dog was next to an English Lamb."
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless)
Main article: Mexican Hairless Dog
The Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short, is a hairless breed of dog, found in toy, miniature and standard sizes.The Xolo also comes in a coated variety and all three sizes can be born to a single litter. It is also known as Mexican hairless dog in English speaking countries, is one of several breeds of hairless dog and has been used as a historical source of food for the Aztec Empire.
In 2015, The Korea Observer reported that many different pet breeds of dog are eaten in South Korea, including labradors, retrievers and cocker spaniels, and that the dogs slaughtered for their meat may include former pets.
Scientists are still trying to determine the origin of the coronavirus, but the predominant theory is that it began in a food market in Wuhan, China.
So-called "wet markets" — usually a jumble of stalls carrying produce, seafood, some farmed meat — are found across China, as well as in many other parts of the world. The problem is that these wet markets sometimes also carry live animals — occasionally including illegal, sometimes exotic, wildlife — bought and slaughtered on the spot, increasing chances for the spread of disease.
An interesting article from 2012
By Adam Soliman on December 20, 2012
While I was studying in Hong Kong, I lived in the Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood, an area abundant with local retailers and with a large wet market selling a wide variety of fresh produce, seafood, and meat. There wasn’t really anything I could not find in the neighbourhood, except for some standard North American items such as doughnuts and microwaveable popcorn. I could always count on being sufficiently satiated by shopping from vendors no more than a block from my building. I must admit that when I first moved to the area, I questioned whether it would be safe for me to shop for food there. I obviously stood out as a foreigner and I wasn’t sure if my immune system could handle consuming the local fare. Read more..
A study by Wertheim et al 2009, Found that the butchering of unvaccinated dogs and cats in rabies-endemic countries should be considered a risk factor for rabies transmission.The same study reported two case studies. Two men contracted rabies through the butchering of dead dogs and cats. One of the men found a dead dog on the road and the other decided to kill and eat a cat who had been sick for three days. Both died painful deaths.
(1)A study conducted by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology of Viet Nam (NIHE) in dog slaughter houses in the Hanoi area in 2007 found that two out of ten sick dogs were positive for rabies. This study was conducted following previous findings where 40% of rabies victims had no history of cat or dog bites. They had, however, worked at dog slaughter houses or privately slaughtered dogs. Vietnamese doctors consider dog butchering a very serious risk factor for rabies transmission.
(2)This problem is not unique to Vietnam. An epidemiological survey in China reported that two out of 64 patients contracted rabies by either killing, cooking, or consuming dogs.
(3) In January 2008, 30 people from the Philippines were reported to have received anti-rabies vaccination after having eaten the meat of a rabid dog and the problem is getting far worse there. Dr Luningning Elio-Villa, coordinator of the Department of Health’s rabies control programme, said that “If the dog is cooked, the virus is destroyed, but many are eaten raw. And anyone cutting up a dead dog can transmit the virus to themselves if they touch their eyes or lips while they have traces of the dog’s fluids on their hands.”
(4)Find out more about Rabies and the Dog Meat Trade in Cambodia here.
Many dogs have contact with rodents and dirt which can cause them to ingest the larvae of the Trichinosis parasite.
(5) When the dogs are caught and killed, they are already infected with the parasite.
For the safety of the end consumer, the infested dog meat must be cooked at 100 degrees celsius for at least 30 minutes to kill the larvae. This parasite is not unique to dogs, however, and is also very common in pigs.
In Vietnam, a study revealed that out of 126 patients diagnosed with trichinosis, 8 of them died.
(6)Eating, or even just handling dog meat, puts you at risk of death by rabies and trichinosis. How can anyone believe that eating dog meat is good for health when so many deaths occur?
Find out more about the Trichinosis parasite here.
One method of catching dogs from the street or stealing them from pet owners is to bait the dogs with poison. The dogs eat the poison which can remain in the meat and then also kill the consumer. In December 2015, 5 people died after eating the body of a dead dog that died under ‘mysterious circumstances.’
(7) Eating animals that have died after sickness is not uncommon, but when poison causes the animal’s disease, the risks to health are disastrous.
So, if you can get past the rabies risk during catching, killing, and butchering, then avoid the deadly parasite, all you have to do is hope the dead dog you are eating was not poisoned!
Further link below
It turns out you really are what you eat; death.
Hanoi restaurants keep ‘little tiger’ on the menu in defiance of official ban
cat sells for between US$50 and US$70 depending on how large it is and how it is prepared. Photo: EPA
The enduring popularity of “little tiger” as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban.
At an unassuming restaurant next to a carwash in central Hanoi, a cat is prepared for hungry clients: drowned, shaved and burned to remove all fur before being cut up and fried with garlic.
“A lot of people eat cat meat. It’s a novelty. They want to try it,” said the establishment’s manager To Van Dung, 35.
Vietnam has forbidden the consumption of cats in an effort to encourage their ownership and keep the capital’s rat population under control.
But there are still dozens of restaurants serving cat in Hanoi and it is rare to see felines roaming the streets – most pet-owners keep them indoors or tied up out of fear of cat thieves.
Such is the demand from restaurants that cats are sometimes smuggled across the border from Thailand and Laos.
Dung said that he had never had problems with the law. He buys his cats from local breeders but also so-called cat traders, with few checks on their sourcing.
“Little tiger” is typically enjoyed at the start of each lunar month, unlike dog meat which is eaten at the end.
On a busy day, the restaurant can serve around 100 clients.
“I know in the United States and Britain they don’t eat cat. But here we do,” Nguyen Dinh Tue, 44, said as he chewed on a piece of fried cat meat.
“I don’t kill the cat! But this place sells it so I like to eat it,” he added.
Vietnam’s penchant for eating animals that are considered pets in many other countries came about largely as a result of circumstance, said Hoang Ngoc Bau, one of Hanoi’s few trained vets.
“The country was once very poor, and we had a long war. We ate everything we could to stay alive,” he said. “Insects, dogs, cats, even rats ... It became a habit.”
The enduring popularity of “little tiger” as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban. Photo: AFP
Bau, 63, decided to become a vet after his pet dog saved him from a poisonous snake when he was a child. “From that time, I had a debt to dogs,” he said.
Dramatic changes to society and cultural attitudes in the once tightly-controlled communist country in recent decades mean that a growing number of Vietnamese now share his love of animals.
But old eating habits die hard and pet owners have a battle on their hands to protect their furry companions from the dinner pot.
“No one is breeding dogs and cats for slaughter. So nearly all the animals in restaurants are trapped and stolen,” Bau said.
“For me and other pet lovers in Vietnam, they’re our best friend,” added the vet.
Yet some people manage to reconcile society’s dual affection for cats.
Le Ngoc Thien, the chef at one Hanoi cat meat restaurant, keeps a cat as a pet – but when it is big enough he will cook it and get a new kitten to repeat the cycle.
“When my cats become old we kill them because according to our tradition when a cat gets old we need to change it and get a younger one,” he said.
“When I first started working here, I was surprised so many people ate cat. But now, fine, they like it,” he said, adding that demand appeared to be increasing each year.
“Eating cat meat is better than eating dog as the meat is more sweet, more tender than a dog,” Thien said.
A cat sells for between US$50 and US$70 depending on how large it is and how it is prepared.
Many pet owners get fed up of the risks of letting their cats go outside.
Phuong Thanh Thuy owns a Hanoi restaurant and has cats to keep rats in check, but she has had to replace them regularly.
“My family is sad because we spend a lot of time and energy raising our cats. When we lose a cat we feel pain,” she said as a newly purchased batch of kittens played at her feet.
Taiwan has banned the selling and eating of cats and dogs after a series of cruelty cases that caused widespread outrage.
The new Animal Protection Act will see anyone selling, eating or buying the animals for consumption facing fines of up to £6,500.
Those found guilty of animal cruelty could also receive a huge fine of £52,000 and two years in prison.
Taiwan is the first Asian country to crack down on the practice.
The new law tackles long-standing cultural beliefs about the benefits of eating dogs - for example, eating black dogs in winter is supposed to help you stay warm.
It was pushed through by President Tsai Ing-wen, who adopted three retired guide dogs last year and also has two cats, named Cookie and A-Tsai.
The practice of eating cats and dogs has become less common as pet ownership rises, and new generations have different attitudes to eating domestic animals.
But an estimated 30 million dogs across Asia, including stolen family pets, are still killed for human consumption every year, according to the Humane Society International.
While not widespread, the charity says the practice is most common in China, South Korea, The Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the region of Nagaland in India.
Although accurate figures are difficult to obtain, China is believed to be responsible for the majority of global cases of cat and dog slaughter.
Each year, around four million cats and 10 million dogs are believed to be slaughtered in the country. The Humane Society says the majority are stolen pets and strays that are captured and kept in cages.
The tradition of eating dogs dates back thousands of years, even though they are often kept as pets.
Each year in June, the city of Yulin in southern China hosts a dog meat festival, where live dogs and cats are sold specifically for eating and an estimated 10,000 are slaughtered for their meat.
But last year saw big protests against the festival from within China as well as in the West.
In South Korea, dog meat dishes are so common that they have their own name - Gaegogi.
The country has an estimated 17,000 dog farms, according to the Humane Society, where animals are routinely prepared for human consumption.
However, similar to other countries, pressure from welfare groups is having an impact.
In February, the biggest dog meat market in Seongnam was closed down as part of a wider crackdown ahead of the country's hosting of the Winter Olympics next year.
Around five million dogs are believed to be slaughtered for eating in the country each year.
And the demand has led to an illegal trade from neighbouring countries, including Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
The Asia Canine Protection Alliance (Acpa), which lobbies governments to try to end the dog meat trade, says there is some evidence that the dog meat trade is dangerous to humans, leading to an increase in diseases like rabies.
Acpa's focus is to end the illegal trade of dogs from Thailand and Laos into Vietnam, where an estimated five million dogs are slaughtered every year for human consumption, by tackling both the supply of dogs from Thailand and Laos, and the demand for dogs for consumption in Vietnam.