High prices are driving an increase in attempts to bring eggs into the United States from Mexico, according to border officials.
Officials at the San Diego Customs and Border Protection office 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 a tweet Tuesday. “As a reminder, uncooked eggs are prohibited from entering the U.S. from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural items may result in penalties of up to $10,000.”
It is illegal to bring uncooked eggs from Mexico into the United States because of the risk of bird flu and Newcastle disease, a contagious virus that affects birds, according to Customs and Border Protection.
In a statement emailed to CNN, Gerrelaine Alcordo, Customs and Border Protection public affairs specialist, attributed the increase in egg smuggling efforts to the cost of egg spinning in the United States. A massive outbreak of deadly bird flu among America’s chicken flocks sent egg prices soaring, climbing 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 crossing as well as “other border sites in the southwest,” Alcordo said.
For the most part, travelers who bring eggs have declared the eggs while crossing the border. “When that happens the person can abandon the product without result,” Alcordo said. “CBP agricultural specialists will collect and then destroy the eggs (and other prohibited food/objection products) as a normal course of action.”
In a few incidents, travelers did not declare their eggs and the products were found during inspection. In those cases, the eggs were seized and the travelers received a $300 penalty, Alcordo explained.
“Penalties can be higher for repeat offenders or commercial volume imports,” he said.
Alcordo emphasized the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products when traveling.
“Although many items may be permitted, it is best to declare them to avoid possible fines and penalties if they are deemed prohibited,” he said. “If they are announced and considered prohibited, they can be abandoned without consequence. If they are not declared and found during an examination the traveler is subject to a penalty.”