Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted 19,555 pounds of illegal pork, chicken, beef, and duck products arriving from China at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
According to an official CBP statement, most of the animal products were mixed in boxes of headphones, door locks, kitchenware, LCD tablets, trash bags, swim fins, cell phone covers, plastic cases and household goods. CBP agriculture specialists identified, examined and seized 12 shipments containing a total of 834 cartons that lacked the required USDA entry documentation.
“Our close collaboration with our USDA strategic partners has resulted in an increased number of prohibited food products interceptions in a relatively short period of time,” said Carlos Martel, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles. “CBP agriculture specialists remain committed and vigilant of foreign animal disease threats.”
In the first five months of fiscal year 2020, the interception of prohibited meats from China at the LA/Long Beach Seaport has increased 70% compared with the same period a year ago.
When unmanifiested animal products are discovered, CBP reports the violation to the USDA and issues an emergency action for the expedited destruction of the contraband. Pork products from ASF-affected countries may introduce the virus to the United States, crippling the domestic pork industry and U.S. pork exports valued at $6.5 billion annually. AFS is spread by contact with an infected animals’ bodily fluids.
Aside from CBP’s work with USDA on monitoring container ships coming to the country, airline passengers bringing in prohibited items remains a top priority, even with international flights down substantially due to COVID-19. Kevin Harriger, executive director of Agriculture Programs & Trade Liaison for CBP explained this in the March 2020 edition of the Foreign Animal Disease Preparation Bulletin.