China intercepted a shipment of over 100,000 metric tons of frozen meat that illegal smugglers were planning to sell to Hunan province and other Chinese provinces and major cities. But what’s stomach-curling was the date authorities found stamped on the contraband loot. The frozen pork, beef and chicken wings dated over 40 years old.
State-run China Daily said illegally smuggled meat was worth 3 billion yuan ($483 million). A report by South China Morning Post said the contraband was smuggled into China through Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Yang Bo, deputy director of the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the Changsha Administration of Customs, said smuggled meat products are usually not scrutinized. The shipment only captured their attention because of its foul smell.
“The products fully filled an entire compartment. It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” Zhang Tao, an official that helped with the operation in Hunan province, said.
Reports also said some of the meat have thawed out while in transit and were just refrozen to make it look fresh. This is because the meat is just often transported in ordinary rather than refrigerated vehicles, Yang said. “So the meat has often thawed out several times before reaching customers.”
About 20 people have been arrested due to the illegal shipment, according to Xinhua.
Despite efforts, Yang said organized gangs will still find ways to continue to illegal trade. “Frozen food smugglers have a network that covers the entire country so any crackdown needs to be a multi-province effort. Concerted efforts need to be focused on the leadership of these gangs to take out the problem from the roots and ensure the safety and health of the consumers.”