Packaged Meat - photo courtesy of Pixabay

The seizures of prohibited meat products from China continue at levels never seen before at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex, authorities said Monday.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in first quarter of fiscal year 2022, which ran from October through December of 2021, agriculture specialists intercepted 262,237 pounds of prohibited pork, chicken, beef and duck products — a 33% increase from same period the year before.

The increase began intensifying in fiscal year 2021, when in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of prohibited animal products seized at the LA/LB seaport reached a record 786,514 pounds, up 80% from the previous year, authorities said.

“Preventing the introduction of foreign contagious animal diseases and noxious pests at our nation’s largest seaport is paramount and vital to our agriculture industry and the well-being of the communities we serve,” Carlos C. Martel, CBP cirector of field operations in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

“We work closely with our USDA and private-sector partners to protect the nation from a variety of diverse agriculture threats,” Martel said.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, China is affected by African Swine Fever, Classical Swine Fever, virulent Newcastle Disease, Foot and Mouth Disease, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, and Swine Vesicular Disease.

Pork products from ASF-affected countries may introduce the virus to the United States, potentially crippling the domestic pork industry and U.S. pork exports valued at $6.5 billion annually, authorities said.

CBP agriculture specialists found most of the prohibited animal products mixed in boxes of e-commerce shipments and household goods — in an attempt to smuggle the meats into the country, authorities said.

“CBP plays a major role in protecting American consumers and the agriculture industry from pests and diseases,” said Donald R. Kusser, CBP Port Director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport.

“These unprecedented numbers reflect the critical role and outstanding contributions of CBP’s agriculture specialists, (who) have been working tirelessly identifying, intercepting and seizing these prohibited items,” Kusser said.

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