Think your job is bad? It could be worse. Employees at a Chinese sales company were forced to drink mealworms floating in alcohol as a punishment for failing to meet their self-set productivity goals, according to GB Times.
The employees were singled out Tuesday morning at a union gathering in a central square in downtown Hanzhong City, Shaanxi Province.
Witnesses report that about 60 employees from a union of ten sales companies were gathered for the meeting when a man arrived carrying two plastic bags. One bag contained disposable chopsticks, cups and two bottles of baiju, a strong Chinese alcoholic beverage. The other bag contained mealworms, which are the larval form of the mealworm beetle.
The employees were then told that those who had not met their self-set goals would each be forced to drink four mealworms floating in a cup of baiju as punishment.
At 120 per cent proof, baiju is China’s most effective national drink – we took a look at what makes it so popularhttp://t.co/JNoWUAfOL5
— The Kernel (@KernelMag) January 29, 2014
Witnesses report that five or six of the employees willingly drank the mealworms in the alcohol but one pregnant employee refused, saying that it would harm her unborn child.
“I cannot eat insects or drink alcohol, unless you want me to lose this baby,” she told her employer.
Employers defended forcing the workers to eat the mealworms, claiming that the employees had agreed to it earlier. One member of the sales union, the owner of a bathroom retailer, said that the punishment was designed to rouse worker morale and encourage them to make greater efforts.
An anonymous employee also revealed that they have had to eat raw squid and ants in the past as punishment.
Chinese law allows incentives and penalties for employees as long as they do not cause harm. However, punishments like insults, high fines or corporal punishment are violations of the law and can be reported.
According to an official with Hanzhong City’s labor inspection department, penalizing poor performance with the forced consumption of insects and similar punishments would be considered corporal punishment and could be reported. Chinese workers who suffer physical consequences of corporal punishment can apply for financial compensation.
While mealworms are generally used for food for birds and small animals, some people willingly consume the shudder-inducing insects.
— Chef Gouttebel (@Insektermedchef) November 1, 2016
Some fans point out the health benefits of mealworms, which are high in protein, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, yet low in cholesterol.
— Chef Gouttebel (@Insektermedchef) October 31, 2016
Others point out that mealworms are incredibly easy and inexpensive to raise, making them an ideal food source for an ever-increasing population. Abigale’s Edibles points out how environmentally friendly mealworms are.
“A mealworm farm takes up zero useful land. Mealworms can even be grown in a closet or under a bed.”
The site claims that mealworms are tasty when roasted, with a similar flavor to roasted seeds or nuts, and are “particularly good covered in chocolate or sprinkled on soup.”
— Chef Gouttebel (@Insektermedchef) November 7, 2016
Other people also claim to actually enjoy the taste, or at least enjoy being adventurous enough to crunch down on the creepy critters.
ok wow mealworms are tasty!!! definitely gonna get those more often ????????????????
— Peter Dijkstra ???? (@Superdajk) November 1, 2016
I bought bugs to make my chili. But who can resist a sample pack of flavoured crickets & mealworms? Not me.
— Juiblex (@LordJuiblex) October 31, 2016
Ground to Ground offers detailed instructions on how to raise and prepare your own mealworms for food.
“Leave your cup of mealworms in the cupboard for a day or two, making sure they have zero food with them,” the site advises. “At this stage they are ready to go… but if you want you could also try to flavour your mealworms prior to cooking.”
People can then add small pieces of foods like apples, carrots, crushed cinnamon sticks or parsley for the insects to eat, which then allegedly imparts those flavors into the mealworms.
“What you get from doing that is the flavour of that food going into the mealworms. As they eat it they start to taste like it, just in the same way that beef, lamb, and pork can be affected by diet.”
The site cautions people to remove the food sources for a day or two before cooking and eating them, in order to “purge” them.
— Juiblex (@LordJuiblex) October 31, 2016
How about you? Would you eat mealworms?
[Featured Image by HardheadMonster/Shutterstock]