Experts believe that the smuggled 40-year-old frozen meat found in a massive Changsha bust was most likely former strategic food reserves from the United States.
Many countries freeze large amounts of meat not only as food reserves, but also to stabilize prices. This is what led to the notorious United States Army beef scandal back in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. During that time, the US desperately needed meat at the lowest price possible. As a result, troops were given poorly preserved, chemically treated or spoiled meat that was toxic and dangerous, causing numerous accounts of illnesses.
Last week, the meat found in China was to be sent to cities in Yunan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces.
“After frozen for a long amount of time, the surface of the beef will start to oxidate and darken so it can’t be directly sold to consumers,” a beef trade expert, surnamed Cui told reporters. “After being stewed or fried in restaurants, the beef will look and taste just like fresh beef. Consumers won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Changsha Customs Bureau deputy Yang Bo predicts that consumers who eat the expired frozen products could potentially catch the bird flu, hand, food and mouth disease (HFMD), mad cow disease or other life-threatening illnesses.
According to China’s “Central Meat Reserves Management Approach”, frozen pork can be stored three times per year, each time around four months. Frozen pork and lamb can be stored for eight months.
“Domestic regulations stipulate frozen beef and lamb expires after eight to 12 months and it should not be defrosted after that,” said Gao Guan, the deputy secretary of the China Meat association. “But the international practice is generally two years.”
Many netizens have questioned why gangs would spend so much money refreezing meat for forty years.
An unnamed local customs officer reported that it only costs 17 yuan a year per tonne for overseas storage. The low price is one of the major reasons so many expired meat-smuggling cases have been uncovered over the years.
A total of 21 smuggling groups were busted by authorities this month with 100,000 tonnes of frozen meat, worth more than three billion yuan, found smuggled into the mainland.
[Image via 163]
By Sharon Choi