China’s shipping industry is massive. About 40 years ago, Asia was the poorest country on the face of the Earth — twice as poor as Africa is today — and it now has the fastest growing economy, and is twice as rich as Africa. According to the latest data available from the World Shipping Council, China itself is the number one exporter in the world, and the second largest importer.
However, as is the case with many industries that rapidly grow, horrible things can happen. According to reports, Chinese authorities seized more than 100,000 tons of meat from smugglers, some of which was more than 40 years old, dating back to the Carter administration.
Worse, the $483 million worth of produce, including beef, chicken feet, and duck necks, had been transported periodically in regular trucks — as opposed to freezer trucks — so it was frozen, thawed, and then refrozen at different points in its journey.
“It was smelly and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” said a Hunan province official.
Chinese anti-smuggling authorities are investigating 21 gangs, and have already arrested 20 people in the Hunan province alone. They believe the meat was smuggled into China via Hong Kong and Vietnam from countries such as Brazil and India to sidestep import restrictions.
Authorities seized the smuggled meat in 14 different provinces. According to the Changsha Administration of Customs, one-third of the meat sold at the largest wholesale market in the Hunan Province was found to have been smuggled illegally.
This latest scandal comes just months after Beijing hardened food safety regulations in order to shake off a growing reputation for safety scandals.
Some of the scandals that prompted the toughening of regulations ranged from donkey meat that’d been tainted with DNA from foxes, to milk that’d been contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which led to the death of six infants back in 2008. Less than one year ago, authorities detained five individuals for selling expired meat, which they’d repackaged and put new expiration dates on, to major chain restaurants in China, including McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks, and Burger King.