Chinese Vendors Selling 40-year-old Frozen Zombie Meat
Pig trotters from the 1970s and chicken wings from the 1980s have been discovered in a crackdown launched earlier this month, with the frozen goods dubbed 'zombie meat' by social media users.
Officials have seized more than 100,000 tonnes of meat worth three billion Yuan (£300 million), reported the People's Daily Online.
More than twenty illegal gangs selling the meat have been smashed across the country so far.
In Hunan province custom officials seized 800 tonnes of illegally smuggled meat worth of 10 million Yuan (£1 million), representing its largest haul in recent years.
A total of 22 people were arrested including the two ring leaders, named by media as Li and Zhong.
Yang Bo, deputy director of the customs bureau in Changsha, said the smuggled meat had not been inspected or quarantined,
He added the meat could carry bird flu, foot and mouth disease as well as mad cow disease.
Chicken feet and pigs trotters are all popular dishes in China's restaurants, which is where the 'zombie meat' was destined.
Using refrigerated trucks to transport the meat increases costs so the gangs use ordinary vans. After a 12-hour journey, the meat starts to rot and smell.
The meat will be then be refrozen and sent to other provinces across the country.
Insiders said that even with the crackdown by authorities the high profits involved means there will always be criminals willing to engage in this illegal trade.
Organised gangs even offer a 'one-stop shop' service for buyers which includes finding suppliers, organising transportation, customs clearance and delivery.
Payment is often in cash or done online which makes investigations into their illegal activities even harder.
The smugglers use various social media platforms to communicate and are very cautious.
Mr Bo said: '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, Yunnan.
'Concerted 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'.