From gutter oil to melamine-tainted milk powder, food-safety scares continue to plague China, and the latest incident in this saga is among the weirdest. Chinese authorities seized 100,000 tons of beef, chicken wings, and pork across 14 provinces and regions in an anti-smuggling crackdown, and they discovered that some of the meat had been stamped with packaging dates going back to the 1970s.
Four-decade-old meat (what you might call extremely dry-aged) is one thing, but it gets worse: The smuggled meat had also been transported in non-refrigerated trucks, apparently originating in Vietnam, for over 12 hours, a cost-saving initiative that predictably didn’t go so well. The meat was so thoroughly rotten that one official from Changsha, Hunan, said that he almost threw up upon discovering the meat.
Illegally imported proteins are a major problem in China — one Changsha Administration of Customs authority said a third of the meat at the city’s largest wholesale supplier had slipped through the borders — and this isn’t the first expired meat scandal in the country’s recent history. Less than a year ago, McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks in China all apologized and dropped Shanghai supplier Husi Food Co. Ltd. after a video emerged that reportedly showed employees re-packing expired meat. (The CEO of the company’s American owner apologized as well.)”* The situation has gotten so grim that one young mother told the Guardian that more and more of her friends see no other choice but to emigrate. As one expert told the Times, “Theoretically, China has strict food safety regulations, but execution is often the problem.”
*This post has been updated to clarify the current situation at Husi Food Co.