4 Jun 2015

Egg industry backs hefty fine for illegal imports

8:53 am on 4 June 2015

The egg industry is pleased that the Ministry for Primary Industries has cracked an illegal egg importing case.

A New Plymouth woman, Karen Joanne Legget, has been fined more than $45,000 for importing live eggs, in breach of Biosecurity regulations.

The woman, a hobby chicken enthusiast, had bought the eggs in an online auction from sellers in Scotland, England and Wales.

MPI said she then arranged to have the eggs sent to her falsely labelled as chocolate eggs, but they were intercepted at the Auckland mail centre.

The Ministry said the eggs had not been sterilised and some still had dirt and faeces on them.

The Egg Producers Federation supported the prosecution and fine.

Executive director Michael Brooks said illegal imports of live eggs posed a serious disease risk to New Zealand's poultry industry.

"New Zealand is unique in the world for its freedom from the major bird diseases, and any illegal importation threatens that position.

"There's avian influenza, known commonly as bird flu and we can see at the moment that's causing devastation in North America and parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.

"There are also other diseases such as Newcastle disease and infectious bursal disease. There have been avian Influenza outbreaks in the UK and Newcastle and infectious bursal disease have been found in the United Kingdom, as well.

"These are like foot and mouth disease for the poultry industry. We don't have them in New Zealand and we want it to stay that way."

Mr Brooks said MPI was also investigating an attempt to import birds' nests.