The high prices are stimulating an increase in egg-laying attempts into the U.S. from Mexico, according to border officials.
San Diego Customs and Border Protection officers have seen an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle 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 caught at our ports of entry,” De La O wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “We remind you that raw eggs are prohibited from entering the United States from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural products can result in penalties of up to $10,000.”
Bringing uncooked eggs from Mexico into the U.S. 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 Guerlain Alcordo attributed the increase in egg smuggling attempts to the sharp increase in the price of eggs in the US. A massive outbreak of deadly bird flu among U.S. chicken flocks sent egg prices soaring, up 11.1% from November to December and 59.9% year-over-year. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The increase was reported at the Tijuana-San Diego border crossing, as well as at “other southwest border points,” Alcordo said.
For the most part, travelers carrying eggs declared the eggs when crossing the border. “When that happens, the person can get off the product without consequence,” Alcordo said. “CBP agricultural officers will collect and then destroy the eggs (and other prohibited food/agricultural products) as is the routine course of action.”
In several incidents, travelers did not declare their eggs and the products were discovered during inspection. In those cases, the eggs were confiscated and passengers were fined $300, Alcordo explained.
“Penalties may be higher for repeat offenders or importation in commercial quantities,” he added.
Alcordo stressed the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products when traveling.
“While many items may be permissible, it is best to declare them to avoid possible fines and penalties if they are deemed prohibited,” he said. “If they are declared and deemed prohibited, they can be abandoned without consequence. If they are not declared and then discovered during an examination, the passenger will be subject to penalties.
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