On Tuesday, April 20, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists at the port of Memphis, TN were inspecting a shipment from China en route to New York City that was manifested as “The Scarf” when they noticed organic anomalies. Upon further inspection, the 25 small boxes in the shipment were found to contain 750 unfertilized Avian Eggs placed inside foam cartons. According to USDA, China is currently affected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Newcastle Disease. HPAI is a highly contagious viral disease that is often fatal to chickens. According to the CDC, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization considered the Asian HPAI H5N1 virus to be endemic in China, along with Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Newcastle Disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. The disease is so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs. These foreign animal diseases pose a serious threat to the U.S. poultry industry and various avian wildlife.
“Our agriculture specialists are highly skilled in preventing shippers’ attempts to circumvent US laws and regulations regarding agriculture importations,” said Assistant Area Port Director Crystal Lopera. “This critical interception kept potentially viral and illegal poultry products from entering our commerce.”
The eggs were not accompanied by any documentation detailing the genus or species, nor was there any indication of their purpose. The shipment was addressed to a private residence which was known for previously importing restricted animal products for consumption. These kinds of eggs, especially in this quantity, tend to be used for cooking in a small restaurant or sold at a family market.
Poultry Products such as these must be accompanied by a Veterinary Export Certificate. This shipment did not, and the prohibited eggs were safeguarded and destroyed according to USDA regulations.
On a typical day in Fiscal Year 2019 CBP agriculture specialists prevented 314 pests from entering the U.S. through ports across the country, and confiscated 4,695 materials for quarantine, including plants or plant products, meats, animal byproducts, and soil.
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