Illegal food transportation: why more and more eggs are being smuggled into the US from Mexico

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Illegal food transportation: why more and more eggs are being smuggled into the US from Mexico

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported an increase in attempts to illegally bring eggs into the country across the border with Mexico. "The San Diego field office has recently noticed an increase in the number of eggs intercepted at our ports of entry," branch manager Jennifer De La O said on Twitter. Raw poultry meat is also being brought significantly more often by travelers from Mexico. "We want to remind travelers that federal agricultural regulations remain in effect," said De La O.

The trigger for the sharp increase in egg smuggling is the dramatic rise in egg prices in the United States. In December alone, the price of chicken products rose by 60 percent compared to the previous year, as reported by the broadcaster National Public Radion (NPR). According to this, a pack of 30 costs $3.40 in the Mexican border town of Juárez. In some parts of the US, such as California, a dozen eggs can cost as much as $7.37. Shoppers from El Paso, Texas, bought eggs in Juárez because they're "significantly cheaper there," agency spokesman Gerrelaine Alcordo told NPR.

Alcordo explained that many travelers are not even aware that transporting eggs across the border is illegal. "Usually the items are declared at the first check and if that happens the person can leave the product without consequences." However, if undeclared products were discovered, they would be confiscated and destroyed by agricultural experts, which is routine for banned foods. "These individuals will be fined $300, but the fine may be higher for repeat offenders of commercial-size illegal imports," the spokeswoman warned.

Also in a press statement, the Border Protection Agency reminded travelers that raw eggs and poultry are not allowed into the United States -- and that smuggling these goods can be very expensive. "As a reminder, uncooked eggs are banned when entering the United States from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural produce can result in fines of up to $10,000," the border guards said.

The background to the import ban is protection against bird flu and Newcastle disease, a contagious virus that also affects birds. And this is also one of the reasons for the expensive US eggs. A massive outbreak of deadly bird flu among American chicken flocks last year has sent prices skyrocketing. In addition, there is high inflation and problems in the supply chain. These have already led to some supermarket chains limiting the number of egg cartons customers can buy there.

Quellen: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, National Public Radio, CNN, 

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