According to border officials, the higher prices are driving an increase in efforts to bring eggs from Mexico into the US.
Officials at the San Diego Customs and Border Protection office have noticed 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 detained at our ports of entry,” De La O wrote in Tuesday’s tweet. “As a reminder, raw eggs are prohibited entering the U.S. from Mexico. Failure to declare agricultural items may result in a fine of up to $10,000.”
According to Customs and Border Protection, it is illegal to bring uncooked eggs from Mexico into the US because of the risk of bird flu and Newcastle disease, an infectious virus that affects birds.
In an emailed statement to CNN, Customs and Border Protection public affairs specialist Gereline Alcardo attributed the increase in attempted egg smuggling to the rising cost of eggs in the US. A massive outbreak of deadly avian flu among US chicken flocks has caused egg prices to skyrocket, climbing 11.1% from November to December and 59.9% annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Alcordo said increases have been reported at the Tijuana-San Diego crossing as well as “other southwest border locations.”
For the most part, travelers bringing eggs declared the eggs when crossing the border. “When this happens the person can skip the product without consequence,” Alcordo said. “CBP agriculture specialists will collect and then destroy the eggs (and other restricted food/agriculture products), as is a routine procedure.”
In some incidents, passengers did not declare their eggs and the products were discovered during inspection. In those cases, the eggs were confiscated and passengers received a $300 fine, Alcordo explained.
“Penalties may be higher for repeat offenders or for commercial-sized imports,” he added.
Alcordo stressed the importance of declaring all food and agricultural products during the visit.
“While many items may be permitted, it is best to declare them to avoid potential fines and penalties,” he added. “If they are declared and deemed prohibited, they may be released without consequence. If they are undeclared and then discovered during an examination, passengers will be subject to penalties.