High prices are driving an increase in attempts to bring eggs into the US from Mexico, border officials say.
Customs and Border Protection agents in San Diego have seen an increase in the number of attempts to move eggs across the US-Mexico border. According to a tweet from Director of Field Operations Jennifer De La O.
“The San Diego field office has recently noticed an increase in the number of eggs intercepted at our ports of entry,” De La O wrote in Tuesday’s tweet. “As a reminder, raw eggs are prohibited from entering the United States from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural items can result in penalties of up to $10,000.”
Bringing raw eggs from Mexico into the United States is illegal because of the risk of bird flu and Newcastle disease, a contagious virus that affects birds, according to Customs and Border Protection.
In an emailed statement to CNN, Customs and Border Protection public affairs specialist Gerrelaine Alcordo attributed the increase in egg smuggling attempts to the rising cost of eggs in the US. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a massive outbreak of deadly bird flu among U.S. chicken flocks has sent egg prices soaring, rising 11.1% from November to December and 59.9% annual
The increase has been reported at the Tijuana-San Diego crossing, as well as at “other southwest border locations,” Alcordo said.
For the most part, travelers carrying eggs have declared the eggs while crossing the border. “When this happens the person can abandon the product without consequences,” said Alcordo. “CBP agricultural specialists will collect and then destroy the eggs (and other prohibited food/ag products) as is the usual course of action.”
In some incidents, travelers did not declare their eggs and the products were discovered during inspection. In those cases, the eggs were confiscated and travelers were fined $300, Alcordo explained.
“Penalties may be higher for repeat offenders or commercial size imports,” he added.
Alcordo emphasized the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products when traveling.
“While many items may be permitted, it is best to declare them to avoid possible fines and penalties if deemed prohibited,” he said. “If they are declared and considered prohibited, they can be abandoned without any consequences. If they are not declared and later discovered during an examination, the traveler will be subject to penalties.”