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A butcher handles pork at a market stall in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

China Seizes Rotting 40-Year-Old Meat Destined for Dinner Tables

Updated: Jun 24, 2015 5:28 AM ET

China has found itself embroiled in another food safety scandal after authorities discovered 100,000 tons of smuggled frozen meat—some of which was over 40 years old and had begun to thaw—apparently destined for sale and consumption.

"I nearly threw up when I opened the door," an inspector said of the aging meat's overwhelming stench.

Chinese authorities found the smuggled pork, beef and chicken wings in 14 different crackdowns across the country. The haul is reportedly worth in the region of 3 billion yuan ($480 million), reports Reuters.

Much of the meat is thought to have been bought very cheaply in foreign countries. It was then shipped through Hong Kong to Vietnam and finally smuggled into mainland China, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

An official at China's anti-smuggling bureau told the paper that smuggled meat can travel for extended periods of time in unrefrigerated vans and is often repeatedly thawed and refrozen, making it a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria and viruses.

China's ongoing food safety woes are well established. In 2008, six children died and 300,000 fell seriously ill after consuming milk power contaminated by the industrial chemical melamine. On Wednesday, the BBC reported that the Chinese government had asked three Shaanxi infant formula producers to recall their products due to excessive nitrate levels.

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