Feds seize potentially dangerous meats, bird's nests at airports

Federal authorities seized these meat products at Newark Liberty Airport. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)

U.S. Customs authorities have been busy confiscating illegal and potentially dangerous food products at airports in the New York area. 

An American citizen who flew into Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey, from Ghana on Sunday declared 9 pounds of packaged meat to a Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist

CDC personnel identified the products as so-called bushmeat and told "CBP to seize and dispose of the meat in accordance with CDC guidelines," authorities said.

Bushmeat is raw or minimally processed meat from wild animals, such as bats, monkeys, cane rats, and duiker (an African antelope), CDC states. Bringing Bushmeat — which is often smoked, dried, or salted — into the United States is illegal because it can transmit deadly diseases to humans, according to authorities.

"Bushmeat could be infected with germs that can cause sickness in people, including the Ebola virus," CDC states on its website. "Ebola infections in people have been associated with handling and eating infected animals."

Federal authorities seized these swine meat products at JFK Airport. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)

The next day, a passenger on a flight from China declared meat to an agriculture specialist at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The specialist examined the passenger's luggage and found 20 pounds of illegal swine meat and 30 metal containers of a food product known as bird's nests. 

These are actual bird's nests produced around the world as a delicacy and are prohibited in baggage because they don't have the proper paperwork ensuring that they're safe, according to CBP.

Authorities confiscated the products and "safeguarded them for destruction," as per U.S. Department of Agriculture rules. Customs officials issued the passenger a fine for failing to declare the bird's nests.

Federal authorities seized these containers of edible bird's nests at JFK Airport. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)

"CBP Agriculture Specialists made critical interceptions of these prohibited animal products and stopped them from entering the United States before they could potentially cause grave damage to our agricultural and economic vitality," Field Operations Director Troy Miller of the New York Field Office said in a statement.

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Federal authorities seized these swine meat products at JFK Airport. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)

Customs authorities enforce strict laws on importing food and agriculture products because "[animal] disease outbreaks are a threat to the United States that can adversely affect public health, cause global trade halts, and destabilize the economy and our nation's food supply," according to CBP.

Agriculture specialists throughout the country "seized 4,695 prohibited plants, meats, animal byproducts, and soils and intercepted 314 insect pests" on a "typical day" in fiscal 2019, CBP said.