Chinese customs have confiscated about 800 tonnes of rotting, illegal meat early this month.
Food smuggling is a very common problem in China and the most recent smuggling event had some interesting finds. Customs officers in Hunan, China found a truck full of meat that was rotting with some packages that were about 40 years old!
Chinese officials apprehended the meat contraband and found that some of the meat dated back to the 1970’s –the end of the Vietnam War.
This was meat that was on its way to retail shelves, market stands and restaurant tables. According to China Daily, when the meat is frozen it’s nearly impossible to tell healthy meat from rotted meat. They also reported that the amount of meat confiscated was worth around $1.6 million. Already there are twenty suspects arrested for attempting to ship the rotted meat from Hong Kong to Vietnam.
Zhang Tao, a local official, told China Daily:
“The products fully filled an entire compartment. It was really smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door.”
This month alone Chinese customs have confiscated well over 100,000 tonnes (around $500 million) of illegal meat across fourteen provinces. They’ve also arrested twenty-one different smuggling groups! But just because this isn’t a new problem doesn’t mean it’s any less gross…or dangerous!
Yang explains that “to save costs, smugglers often hire ordinary vehicles instead of refrigerated ones. So the meat has often thawed out several times before reaching customers” which of course makes the meat even more of a health hazard. Meat that is smuggled doesn’t undergo the same inspection that legally obtained meat does and as such could contain viruses and harmful bacteria.
Bringing an end to the food smuggling trade has been and will continue to be a top priority of Chinese officials.