Some traditional Chinese mooncake lovers are going to be truly bummed at this new (people who love special operation puns will not be; see below) but, according to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Control, their Cincinnati agricultural specialists have seized almost 1,300 pounds of illegal mooncakes.
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists in Cincinnati recently confiscated 1,272 pounds of mooncakes and 359 pounds of other prohibited items during Special Operation Over the Moon," reads the release. "In anticipation of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which was celebrated October 1, specialists intensified inspections on freight coming from China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia during the first four days in October."
The Asian pastries — which can cost up to several hundred dollars — were deemed illegal and unsafe because the traditional fillings include lotus seed or bean paste and "salted duck egg yolks," says Cincinnati CBP.
The salted duck egg yolks appear to be the issue, per the release: "Because of animal diseases endemic to many Southwest Asia countries, egg products from that region pose a high risk to American agriculture. China and most Southwest Asian counties are hosts to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND)."
The CDC says the Avian Influenza can cause severe disease and death in humans. And, according to the USDA, the Virulent Newcastle Disease, which affects the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry, is "so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs." vND is not in the U.S. and "agriculture specialists want to keep it that way."
“Our specialists perform a critical border security role in safeguarding America’s agricultural and natural resources from harmful pests, and plant and animal diseases,” said Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan in the release.