A 63-year-old woman was fined $7,000 for smuggling 490 embryonated duck eggs into Singapore, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in a joint news release on Wednesday (3 October).
Le Thi Ung had hidden the eggs – weighing a total of 78.4kg – in two styrofoam boxes and was caught when ICA officers conducted checks on her baggage upon her arrival at Changi Airport in September.
Her case was subsequently referred to the AVA for investigation, which found that the eggs contained developing duck embryos, widely known as balut, and were purchased from a wet market in Vietnam.
Balut is a popular street food that is boiled and eaten from the shell in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.
“She had contravened the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act for importing duck eggs from non-approved sources,” the authorities added. “Currently, there are no approved sources of ‘balut’ eggs.”
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.
“Illegally imported food products, which may not have undergone the necessary heat treatment to inactivate the (bird flu) virus, is a risk for public and animal health,” AVA and ICA added.
Any person who illegally imports meat products from unapproved sources may face a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or jailed up to two years or to both for the first conviction.
In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, the offender is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 or jailed up to three years or to both.
Members of the public can refer to AVA’s website or download AVA’s mobile app SG TravelKaki for more information on travellers’ allowances for meat products from overseas travels.
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