A 63-year-old woman was fined $7,000 for illegally importing 490 pieces of embryonated duck eggs into Singapore.
In a joint press release on Wednesday (3 October), Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) stated that ICA officers detected 490 eggs, weighing a total of 78.4kg, in two styrofoam boxes while conducting checks on Le’s baggage upon her arrival at Changi Airport in September.
The case was referred to AVA for investigation.
AVA’s investigation found that the eggs contained developing duck embryos, commonly known as ‘balut’.
According to the authorities, Le Thi Ung had purchased the embryonated duck eggs from a wet market in Vietnam. She had contravened the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act for importing duck eggs from non-approved sources.
The import of food, including meat and eggs, and their products, are regulated for animal health and food safety reasons. Meat and eggs, and their products, can only be imported from accredited sources in approved countries that comply with Singapore’s food safety standards and requirements. Currently, there are no approved sources of ‘balut’ eggs.
Any person who illegally imports meat products from unapproved sources is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to two years or to both for first conviction. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, the offender is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 or to imprisonment of up to three years or to both.
The authorities stressed that illegally imported food products are from unknown sources.
Apart from food safety concerns, AVA said that it has to remain vigilant to prevent diseases such as bird flu from being introduced into Singapore through such food products.
While Singapore is free from bird flu, the disease is endemic in the region. Illegally imported food products, which may not have undergone the necessary heat treatment to inactivate the virus, is a risk for public and animal health.
The ICA and AVA remind travellers against bringing meat products into Singapore without a proper licence.