The high prices are leading to increased attempts to import eggs from Mexico into the United States, according to border officials.
San Diego Customs and Border Protection officers have seen an increase in 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 Tuesday’s tweet. “As a reminder, uncooked eggs are prohibited from entering Mexico into the United States. Failure to report agricultural products may result in penalties of up to $10,000.”
Bringing raw eggs from Mexico into the United States is illegal due to 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 Gerrelaine Alcordo attributed the increase in egg smuggling attempts to the soaring cost of eggs in the United States. . A massive outbreak of deadly bird flu among U.S. chicken flocks sent egg prices skyrocketing, climbing 11.1% from November to December and 59.9% annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The increase was reported at the Tijuana-San Diego crossing as well as “other southwestern border locations,” Alcordo said.
For the most part, travelers bringing eggs declared the eggs when crossing the border. “When this happens, the person can discontinue the product without consequence,” Alcordo said. “CBP agriculture specialists will collect and then destroy eggs (and other prohibited food/agricultural products) as is the usual course of action.”
In a few incidents, travelers failed to declare their eggs and the products were discovered during inspection. In those cases, the eggs were seized and the travelers were fined $300, Alcordo said.
“Penalties may be higher for repeat offenders or commercial-sized imports,” he added.
Alcordo stressed the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products when traveling.
“While many items may be permitted, it is best to declare them to avoid possible fines and penalties if 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 traveler will be liable to sanctions.