BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS—As the Easter holiday approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is advising the traveling public along the U.S.-Mexico border that cascarones (confetti-filled egg shells) are only allowed in limited quantities and must meet certain conditions. Violations can trigger significant penalties.
Cascarones are a component of the Easter celebration for many families. CBP further advises travelers that penalties for personal importations of undeclared cascarones, depending on the severity of the violation, can run as high as $1,000 and up to more than $50,000 for commercial importations of cascarones.
CBP does allow the personal importation of no more than 10 decorated or painted empty eggshells per person as long as they are only for personal use and that they are clean and dry.
The reason cascarones are closely regulated is to prevent the spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), a highly contagious, fatal viral disease that affects every species of bird, attacking respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Exotic Newcastle Disease is so virulent that many birds die without having developed any clinical signs. This disease can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry. Mortality is up to 90 percent of exposed birds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the federal agency that takes the lead in excluding Exotic Newcastle Disease from the United States and responding to any domestic outbreaks that occur. The only way to eradicate the disease from commercial poultry is to destroy infected flocks and impose strict quarantine and in-depth surveillance programs. An outbreak of Exotic Newcastle Disease in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas in 2003 cost growers and the government more than $70 million to eradicate infected flocks and implement quarantine and monitoring programs.