High prices are fueling attempts to bring eggs from Mexico to the US, border officials said.
Officers at the San Diego Customs and Border Protection Office have seen an increase in 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 noted an increase in the number of eggs intercepted at our ports of entry,” De La O wrote in Tuesday’s tweet. “As a reminder, it is illegal to bring uncooked eggs into the U.S. from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural products can result in fines of up to $10,000.”
According to Customs and Border Protection, it is illegal to bring uncooked eggs from Mexico to the US because of the risk of avian flu and Newcastle disease, a contagious virus that affects birds.
In an emailed statement to CNN, Gerrelaine Alcordo, public affairs specialist for Customs and Border Protection, attributed the increase in egg smuggling attempts to the rising cost of eggs in the US. A massive outbreak of deadly bird flu among U.S. chicken flocks has caused egg prices to skyrocket, rising 11.1% from November to December and 59.9% annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The increase has been reported at the Tijuana-San Diego intersection and at “other southwestern border locations,” Alcordo said.
For the most part, travelers who bring eggs have declared the eggs when crossing the border. “If that happens, the person can leave the product without consequences,” Alcordo said. “CBP agricultural specialists will collect the eggs (and other prohibited food/agricultural products) and then destroy them as is customary.”
In a few incidents, travelers failed to declare their eggs and the products were discovered upon inspection. In those cases, the eggs were confiscated and the travelers fined $300, Alcordo explains.
“Penalties may be higher for repeat offenders or commercial-sized imports,” he added.
Alcordo emphasized the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products when travelling.
“While many items may be allowed, it’s best to declare them to avoid potential fines and penalties if they’re considered prohibited,” he said. “If they are declared and considered prohibited, they can be abandoned without consequence. If they are not declared and then discovered during an exam, the traveler will be penalized.”