The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in a joint statement shared that a 63-year old woman was slapped with a $7,000 fine for smuggling ‘balut’ (embryonated duck eggs) into the island.
The Vietnamese woman, Le Thi Ung, had snuck in the 78.4-kg contraband by hiding them in two Styrofoam boxes, but was caught when immigration authorities performed checks on her baggage at the Changi Airport sometime in September.
Woman Fined $7,000 for Bringing in Contraband Food into Singapore
The case had been eventually referred to the AVA for further investigation, which revealed that the contraband items were embryonated or developing duck eggs, more widely known as ‘balut’ in parts of Southeast Asia particularly in the Philippines.
Balut is a popular street food which is boiled and eaten straight from the shell.
According to authorities, the woman had violated the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act through the import of duck eggs from non-approved sources. At present, there are no approved sources of ‘balut’ eggs as per Singapore standards.
In Singapore, the import of food products which include meat and eggs, as well as their products, are regulated for animal health and product safety reasons.
Authorities pointed out that these products can only be imported from approved sources in countries that meet Singapore’s food safety standards and requirements.
Contraband food products, which may not have undergone necessary heat processing to inactivate viruses such as the bird flu, could pose a risk to public and animal health and safety, the AVA and ICA detailed.
Any individual or entity which supports or takes part of the illegal importation of such products will be subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to two years or both for the first conviction. Subsequent conviction/s will hold the offender liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 or imprisonment of up to three years or both.
To learn more about which meat products are allowed to be brought back from overseas travel, members of the public can refer to the AVA website or download the AVA’s mobile app SG TravelKaki.