Decades-old frozen meat seized in China

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Al­most half a bil­lion U.S. dol­lars worth of smug­gled frozen meat — some of it rot­ting and more than 40 years old — has been seized in China, re­ports said Wed­nes­day.

More than 100,000 tonnes of chicken wings, beef and pork worth up to three bil­lion yuan (US$483 mil­lion) were seized in the na­tion­wide crack­down, the state-run China Daily news­pa­per said.

“It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” said an of­fi­cial from Hu­nan province, where 800 tonnes were seized.

Two gangs from the cen­tral province were among 14 busted across the coun­try in the op­er­a­tion which con­cluded ear­lier this month.

A re­port on the of­fi­cial Hu­nan pro­pa­ganda web­site said that the meat seized lo­cally came from the “bor­der area” with Viet­nam, where it was “dif­fi­cult to con­trol the flow of meat.”

But the China Daily re­port did not spec­ify the frozen meat’s ori­gin and the seizures were not re­ported on the web­site of China’s Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms.

Of­fi­cials from Guangxi, a south­ern re­gion bor­der­ing Viet­nam, found some of the meat was “more than 40 years old,” the news­pa­per said.

That would mean it was orig­i­nally packed and stored when the coun­try still un­der the rule of Com­mu­nist China’s found­ing fa­ther Mao Ze­dong, who died in 1976.

The China Daily said smug­glers bought cheap meat abroad, shipped it to Hong Kong and on to Viet­nam be­fore bring­ing the main­land.

Yang Bo, deputy di­rec­tor of the anti- smug­gling bureau in the Hu­nanese cap­i­tal Chang­sha, said they would of­ten trans­port the goods in or­di­nary ve­hi­cles, rather than re­frig­er­ated ones, to save costs.

“So the meat has of­ten thawed out sev­eral times be­fore reach­ing cus­tomers,” he added.

Poor food safety is a ma­jor con­cern in China, where stan­dards are lax and scan­dals in­volv­ing tainted prod­ucts are com­mon.

China was rocked by one of its big­gest-ever food safety scan­dals in 2008 when the in­dus­trial chem­i­cal melamine was found to have been il­le­gally added to dairy prod­ucts, killing at least six ba­bies and mak­ing 300,000 peo­ple ill.

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