Culinary mystery of the legless toads oveyr 2

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The Independent Online
Hundreds of dead toads have been found in Scotland, minus their back legs. Investigators have been forced to conclude that the missing limbs are being passed off as frogs' legs for the restaurant trade.

"This case is one of the most bizarre I have seen," said Andrew Cunningham, veterinary pathologist at London Zoo's Institute of Zoology, which examined 14 toad corpses.

Frogs' legs make fairly rare appearances on British restaurant menus, - and when they do they are usually imported. The slaughterer and his client remain a mystery, although there is the possibility that they were killed for private consumption.

More than 200 toad corpses were found along a half mile stretch of the river Esk in south-west Scotland in April. Initial suggestions were that they were the victim of some kind of pollution, or had been attacked by rats.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency investigated first, then sent some of the corpses to the Institute at Regents' Park, central London, where Mr Cunningham discovered the far more unpleasant truth.

He said: ``The abdomens of all of the toads had been cut open and then the back legs had been turned inside out and the flesh removed, leaving only the skin. I can think of no other logical explanation than that a human did this - no animal could.''

Mr Cunningham said the legs were extracted while the frogs were still alive.

L'Escargot in Greek Street, Soho, London, a Michelin one star restaurant, said the first floor restaurant served a frogs' legs dish.

A spokesman added: "We get ours from one of the Paris markets. I also used to serve them when I worked for the Roux brothers, and I'm not aware of anyone offering British frogs' legs for sale. And I've never heard of anyone selling toads' legs.''

The Independent's food writer Simon Hopkinson said: ``Frogs' legs are on the menu at a few restaurants and I do like them, although I would hope the animals were always killed humanely.

"The best way with them is to fry them in butter with garlic, parsley and a squeeze of lemon. I don't really like the thought of toad legs, though. It sounds somehow a bit muddy to me.''