Over 61 tonnes of expired papaya cubes have been confiscated by police after being discovered at a cold storage facility in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

The papaya cubes, which were manufactured more than five years ago, were meant to have a shelf life of 24 months. Police believe the expired cubes were destined for jams and juices.

zombie papaya
“Zombie papaya”. Photo: news.xinmin.cn

A police spokesperson said, “As food colouring and food essence will be added to the jam and juice, people might not be able to tell whether they are good or not.”

chinese police zombie papaya
Chinese police speaking on the case of “zombie papaya”. Photo: qq.com

Police believed the company had bought a total of 84 tonnes of papaya on five separate occasions in 2010 and 2011. The company used more than 30 tonnes of papaya in 2010 but exported 25 tonnes of papaya to a food company in 2013 after it expired. The rest was kept in the freezer.

Last week, it was reported that frozen meat dated from the early 1970s was smuggled into China and distributed to restaurants across 14 Chinese provinces. People’s Daily tweeted on the Weibo microblogging site that “about 800 tonnes of frozen beef, frozen duck neck and frozen chicken feet worth ¥10 million were seized.”

The state media outlet also hashtagged its tweet as “smuggled zombie meat.”

People's Daily tweet zombie meat
People’s Daily tweeting on Weibo on the smuggled meat issue. Photo: Weibo

Chinese netizens were unimpressed by the list of recently uncovered “zombie foods.”

weibo user zombie

One internet said on Weibo said, “zombie meat and zombie papaya, large groups of zombies are truly arriving.”

weibo user zombie

Another user said: “People produce fake food only because the penalty is too light, and the cost of breaking the law is too low!”

China has long been plagued by food safety scandals. In June, China recalled seven batches of goat’s milk after it was found to be failing food safety tests.

Last Wednesday, Chinese police reported that they had raided a massive fake salt factory in Jiangsu and Beijing. The factory was discovered selling industrial salt as table salt illegally.

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).