For Third Straight Year, Animal Product Contraband Hit Record Levels at LA/LB Seaport

2022 marked the busiest year ever for  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists at the LA/LB Seaport, America’s largest seaport complex.

From October 1st, 2021, to September 30th, 2022, US CBP agriculture specialists intercepted over 1 million pounds (1,217,051 lbs.) of prohibited pork, chicken, beef, and duck products arriving from China. This represents a 7% increase from fiscal year 2021 (1,134,622 lbs.) and 162% from fiscal year 2020 (463,279 lbs.).

These animal products are not approved for consumption by any U.S regulatory agency. According to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, China is a country affected by African Swine Fever (ASF), Classical Swine Fever (CSF), Newcastle Disease (ND), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD).

Agriculture Specialist
A CBP Agriculture Specialist inspects a suspected shipment at the LA/LB seaport.

While these products are not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from animals to humans, these highly contagious viruses could cause 100 percent mortality in animals, devastating vital U.S. livestock resources. It can be spread by ticks that feed on infected animals.

“CBP agriculture specialists target, detect, intercept, and thereby prevent the entry of these potential threats before they have a chance to do any harm,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “Prohibited animal products could seriously threaten U.S. agriculture, our natural resources and our economy.”

Prohibited animal products are often commingled in boxes counterfeit products like headphones, LCD tablets, cell phone covers, wearing apparel, shoes, and accessories, as well as household goods like kitchenware, trash bags, etc.

Animal Products 2
These products could carry animal-to-animal highly contagious deadly viruses potentially devastating America’s livestock vital resources.

“Behind this concerning trend is the exponential increase in e-commerce purchases during the pandemic,” said Donald R. Kusser, CBP Port Director of the LA/LB seaport. “Our Agriculture Specialists have done an outstanding job focusing on this threat, resulting in these record-breaking interceptions.”

When unmanifiested/prohibited animal products are intercepted, CBP issues an Emergency Action Notification (EAN) to initiate the destruction or re-exportation of the contraband. If destruction is advised these products are incinerated following USDA protocols and under CBP supervision.

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While legal in China, these products are not approved for consumption in the U.S.

In fiscal year 2022, the LA/LB seaport issued 1,288 EANs compared with 1,257 in fiscal year 2021, this represents an increase of 2.4% percent. However, if compared to fiscal year 2020, when 757 EANs were issued, it shows a 70% increase in just three years.

Prohibited animal products from overseas are in high demand. Many consumers are not aware of the importation restrictions.

Pork products from African Swine Fever (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. ASF is spread by contact with an infected animals’ body fluids. It can be spread by ticks that feed on infected animals.

USDA – APHIS Resources: