$5,000 fine for illegally importing 'balut' eggs

A 40-year-old man was fined $5,000 for illegally importing 148 cooked embryonated duck eggs into Singapore for sale, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said yesterday.

Lea Soon Lieo, alias Mohd Syukri Sabri Lea, concealed the eggs in two suitcases inside the boot and tyre compartment of a car. They were discovered by ICA officers at Tuas Checkpoint on April 30.

One of Lea's buyers, Ramiscal Quenny Dela Cruz, 30, was also fined $2,500.

Such eggs, commonly known as "balut", are developing bird (usually duck or chicken) embryos that are boiled and eaten from the shell.

They originated from the Philippines and are sold as street food in several South-east Asian countries.

The eggs were seized and subsequently destroyed, AVA and ICA said in their statement.

The AVA said there are currently no approved sources of balut eggs.

"Smuggled food products are from unknown sources. Apart from food safety concerns, AVA has to remain vigilant to prevent diseases such as bird flu from being introduced into Singapore," it added.

"While Singapore is free from bird flu, the disease is endemic in the region."

Both agencies also reminded travellers against bringing meat products into Singapore without a proper licence.

The public can refer to AVA's website or download its SG TravelKaki mobile app for more information on travellers' allowances for meat products.

The maximum penalty for importing meat products from unapproved sources is a $50,000 fine and/or up to two years' jail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline '$5,000 fine for illegally importing 'balut' eggs'. Print Edition | Subscribe