With Christmas approaching, officials are warning people not to buy black market meat, as it is risky and could make you sick.
In the last two weeks the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has intercepted two illegal meat processing operations.
Twenty two processed sheep and equipment were found in the Waikato last week, MPI says the processor has been selling sheep, cattle and goat meat over a number of years.
And a sting in Auckland revealed a sophisticated operation which is estimated to have had 100 regular customers.
Meat and processing equipment, including a refrigerated truck, were seized and prosecutions are likely, with hefty penalties including up to five years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
MPI compliance manager Gary Orr told Nine to Noon it is not about bureaucratic-box ticking but protecting the public.
He says black market meat cannot be traced, making it hard to protect people from food-borne illnesses and chemical contamination.
People generally find out about the meat by word of mouth but MPI are also constantly monitoring social media to detect sales.
Mr Orr says chickens, goats, pigs, cows and even horses have been up for sale.
“People will eat a range of red meat.”
There has been a rise in rustling nationwide, with weekly reports of animals being stolen that is costing farmers thousands, Mr Orr says.
“None of this stuff is done for altruistic reasons, it all comes back to the mighty dollar.
“It’s that old story, if you’re offered cheap meat, it’s just like being offered a cheap television: if it’s too good to be true it probably is.”