Going to Hong Kong and thinking of bringing some roast goose back to Singapore?
Don't, because you would be violating Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) rules.
In her SundayLife! column last week, Associate Editor and Digital Editor of The Straits Times Sumiko Tan wrote about how she had bought a whole roast goose in Hong Kong and brought it back on the plane to Singapore. After the column ran, two readers informed her that what she did was against AVA rules.
Under the rules, all forms of poultry, including cooked or processed food containing poultry, can be brought in from only 13 countries including Australia, the United States and New Zealand. These are certified bird flu-free countries. There is also a 5kg limit. Hong Kong is not on the list.
Tan, who was not aware of the rules, contacted the AVA to apologise at once. A spokesman said she had violated AVA regulations and advised her to "always check on the traveller's allowance before bringing in any food from other countries".
To find out what is permitted, the public can go to the AVA website's travellers page at www.ava.gov.sg/InformationForTravellers/.
In April, the AVA also launched a mobile application called SGTravelKaki, which covers the kinds of food you can bring into Singapore, as well as animals, drugs and medicine, dutiable goods and pet food. It is available for iPhone and Android devices.
An AVA spokesman said the app is part of its public education campaign.
According to the AVA, there were 670 cases last year of people bringing forbidden food into Singapore - an increase from 2012, where there were 420 cases.
Last year's figure does not include cases where travellers realised their mistake and threw away the food at checkpoints.
Those who bring in forbidden products can be issued a warning, made to pay a composition fine or prosecuted in very extreme cases, which are usually criminal by nature.
Ms Alicia Seah, director for marketing communications at tour agency Dynasty Travel, said Singaporean tourists like to buy back local produce. The company's tour guides will advise travellers about AVA's food regulations. They also dissuade travellers from bringing back cooked food as it is more likely to become contaminated.
Singaporean undergraduate Cheryl Lai, 21, said she has brought home fruit from places such as Cambodia and Myammar. Luckily for her, she has not broken any AVA rules.
Under the rules, travellers into Singapore can bring back fresh fruit and vegetables from all countries, so long as they are in "small, reasonable quantities" and are "hand carried for personal consumption".
However, a "phytosanitary certificate", which is basically a health certificate guaranteeing that an agricultural product is pest-free, is needed if the fresh fruit and vegetables are from the American tropics.
Such certificates can be obtained from the food and agriculture authority in the country the fruit was bought and you must have it with you when you return to Singapore.