Vietnamese woman fined for smuggling 490 fetal duck eggs into Singapore

By Phan Anh   October 5, 2018 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnamese woman fined for smuggling 490 fetal duck eggs into Singapore
Egg embryos are served as breakfast at a street restaurant in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh
A Vietnamese woman has been fined S$7,000 ($5,084) for illegally carrying 490 fetal duck eggs into Singapore.

Le Thi Ung, 63, bought the eggs, also known as balut, from a wet market in Vietnam, according to a joint statement by Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

The Straits Times reported Thursday that the 490 eggs, which weighed 78.4 kg, were found in two styrofoam boxes in Ung’s baggage when ICA officers checked her belongings upon arrival at the Changi Airport last month.

They then referred the case to the AVA, which found that Ung had violated the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act by importing duck eggs from non-approved sources. There are no approved sources for fetal duck eggs at the moment.

The violation could result in a fine of up to S$50,000 and jail time of up to two years in accordance with Singaporean law. Repeat offenders could face a fine of up to S$100,000 and jail time of up to three years.

The AVA said food imports into Singapore must be regulated for food safety concerns and fear of diseases, for example the bird flu, getting into the country.

"While Singapore is free from bird flu, the disease is endemic in the region. Illegally imported food products, which may not have undergone the necessary heat treatment to inactivate the virus, is a risk for public and animal health," it said.

Travelers to Singapore are reminded to not bring any unlicensed meat product into the country, both the AVA and the ICA said.

For finding out which kinds of meat products are allowed into the country, one can refer to the AVA’s official website or its SG TravelKaki mobile app.

Fetal duck eggs, containing developing duck embryos, are a delicacy in several Southeast Asian countries. It is known as balut in the Philippines and "hot vit lon" in Vietnam. The boiled fetal eggs are typically served with julienned ginger, Vietnamese coriander, a splash of vinegar and salt to taste.

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