Coastguards in China caught a gang of suspected smugglers allegedly posing a threat to the public’s health by trying to sell 1,000 tonnes of smuggled meat treated with poisonous chemicals, mainland media reports.
Guangdong marine police said 16 suspects had been arrested and meat products valued at more than 80 million yuan (HK$93 million) were confiscated during a raid on a boat off the coast in the Pearl River Delta on Thursday, the Nanfang Daily reported.
The suspects were now being interrogated about their alleged smuggling operation, the report said.
Frozen beef, plus the internal organs of animals, including the stomachs and tongues of cows, plus chickens’ wings and feet were seized.
They had been treated with a variety of dangerous chemicals to help bleach the colour of the meat to make it look better, increase the meat’s tenderness, suppress the growth of bacteria to keep it on shop shelves longer, and increase the size and weight of products, the report said.
However, the use of harmful chemicals on the meat products broke Chinese food safety standards, the authorities said.
Police said they had also found three large refrigerated chambers inside the boat. The suspects’ illegal transactions were being carried out mostly while at sea to avoid raising suspicion, the police said.
The meat products had come mainly from the United States, Brazil and Thailand.