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Chinese customs officials recently cracked down on a meat-smuggling operation and seized more than three billion yuan worth of frozen meat products —some of them up to 40 years old.

Authorities in Changsha, Hunan province most recently busted two meat-smuggling gangs and arrested 20 people. An estimated 800 tonnes of frozen beef, chicken feet and duck necks, worth 10 million yuan, were seized —revealing one of the largest meat smuggling cases in the province ever.

The meat products found in Changsha were smuggled from Hong Kong into Vietnam's northern seaport, where they were packed into smaller compartments. Then they were transported into the mainland and delivered to restaurants and markets around the country. The General Administration of Customs believes the meat most likely originated from countries on China's banned list. Some of them came from sick animals while others have dates stamped on their packages that go as far back as the 1970s.

The frozen products had already begun rotting by the time they were shipped to Changsha. Smugglers simply placed the meat in cold storages to refreeze them before they were sent out again.

"It was too smelly! [There was] a whole truck of it. I almost threw up when I opened the door," one of the officers involved in the bust said in an SCMP report. The customs agency fears these meat products could pose serious health problems since they were not properly stored, inspected, or transported (and of course, very much expired). Until frozen meat shows signs of thawing, customers cannot distinguish whether it is fresh meat or rotten meat from four decades ago.

The two gangs in Changsha are among 21 other smuggling groups who've been busted by authorities this month. In total, customs officials have found more than 100,000 tonnes of frozen chicken, beef, pork and other meat smuggled into the mainland, worth more than three billion yuan. China has called for a nationwide crackdown and tightened regulations in border regions to prevent these products from entering the country.

You can watch a video news report about this story here.

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