100,000 tonnes of meat, some of it 40 years old, seized in China during smuggling crackdown

Some of the illegally smuggled meat was 40 years old, and could have been sold to consumers if it wasn't seized by customs officials

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Chinese officials have seized more than 100,000 tonnes of smuggled meat, some of which is more than 40 years old, in a major nationwide crackdown.

The vast quantities of chicken, beef and pork, worth more than £300 million in total, were seized across the country in an operation aimed at weakening the smuggling industry.

China's General Administration of customs said that 14 different gangs had been busted in the nationwide raids, China Daily reported.

Meat smugglers make their money by purchasing meat at very low prices in foreign countries and illegally shipping it to China where it can be sold at higher prices.

However, the unregulated and illegal nature of the smuggling means that the frozen meat can thaw and be re-frozen multiple times during its journey to China, posing a serious health risk to consumers.


However, even this meat would seem relatively fresh compared to the goods that were seized in Guangxi, a province that borders Vietnam, where officials apparently found meat that was more than 40 years old.

One customs officials working in Hunan told China Daily about his experiences of the raid involving the 'zombie meat'.

"The products fully filled an entire compartment," he said. "It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door."

It is the latest in a long line of food safety scandals that have come out of China in recent years.

The most notable was the 2008 milk scandal, in which 54,000 babies were hospitalised after drinking formula milk that was adulterated with a harmful chemical, melamine.

More recently, Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd was found to be selling expired meat to Japanese branches of international chains such as Starbucks, Burger King and McDonalds.