After plastic rice, concrete-filled walnuts, and beef flavored pork, the latest food scandal in China involves expired meat that’s at least 30 to 40 years old!
China’s food safety officials have seized over 100,000 tons of meat, worth 3 billion Yuan ($484 million), including pig trotters from the 1970s and chicken wings from the 1980s. As the news went viral online, netizens coined the term ‘zombie meat’ to refer to the expired, oxidized meat.
800 tons of illegal meat were seized from Hunan province alone, worth an eye-watering 10 million yuan – one of the largest food safety hauls in recent years. 20 illegal gangs have been cracked down on and 22 people arrested, including two ring leaders.
It stank! The entire truck was full. I almost threw up when I opened the doors,” said Zhang Tao, a customs official from Hunan.
According to Yang Bo, deputy director of the customs bureau in Changsha, the smuggled meat is not inspected or quarantined. Most of it comes from stockpiles of food prepared in the US, smuggled through Vietnam and Hong Kong, in low-cost unrefrigerated trucks. This causes the meat to rot and smell during the journey. Once it reaches China, the meat is refrozen and sent to various provinces across the nation. Bo said that such meat could carry bird flu, foot and mouth disease, as well as mad cow disease.
Frozen food smugglers have a network that covers the entire country so any crackdown needs to be a multi-province effort especially in main battlefields of Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan. Concentrated 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,” he added.
But that’s a lot easier said than done – insiders say that in spite of crackdowns and arrests, the trade will continue to flourish. It costs only 17 yuan ($2.74) per year to store a ton of expired frozen meat, and the profits are insane. So there will always be criminals willing to smuggle zombie meat. And organised gangs can ensure smooth transactions – they offer one-stop-shops to buyers, including finding suppliers, organizing transportation, customs clearance, and delivery.
The zombie meat obviously cannot be sold directly to consumers because it is oxidized and appears black. But restaurants are able to prepare the meat so that customers can’t really tell the difference. At least two million tons of decades-old beef is believed to be consumed by unsuspecting Chinese consumers each year! That sounds scary, but lots of netizens are able to find humor in the grim situation. One person jokingly commented:
Waiter, I’ll have a 1980 cut of beef, and an ‘82 Coke.”
Via GbTimes and ChinaSmack