Chinese officials said Wednesday that they intercepted about $483 million worth of smuggled meat and learned that the rotten stench was due to the fact that some of the meat was 40 years old.

Reuters, citing the country's official China Daily, reported that some of the meat was rotten and decomposing. An administration official recalled inspecting the meat, saying, "It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door."

Meat smuggling in the country has been a top public health safety concern. The government has worked to crack down on illegal smugglers. The report said hundreds of thousands of tons of beef are smuggled into the country from places like Vietnam, Hong Kong and as far away as Brazil. 

Meat, if frozen properly, can last for a long time, but these smugglers often drive vehicles that are not refrigerated.

"The meat has often thawed out several times before reaching customers," an anti-smuggling official told the paper.