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Beijing - A court in central China sentenced 11 members of a gang to jail for selling meat from dogs they had hunted with crossbows using bolts dipped in poison, state media said on Wednesday.

The gang killed around 1 000 dogs last year using bolts dipped in a highly poisonous chemical, called succinylcholine chloride, and stored their meat in a freezer, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a court in Hunan province.

Police busted the ring last December, and seized 12 tons of frozen dog meat, but the meat from about 10 dogs had already been sold.

The 11 defendants were convicted for the sale of toxic and hazardous food, and received prison sentences of one to seven years, along with fines ranging from 3 000 to 350 000 yuan, according to an article in a court newspaper.

Food safety scares, from cadmium-tainted rice to re-used cooking oil, have long plagued China and weighed on consumer confidence. - Reuters