Feds Scramble to Intercept Banned Easter Eggs

Chocolate eggs conceal a tiny toy inside, pose choking hazard to kids

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chocolate eggs conceal a tiny toy inside, pose choking hazard to kids. (Published Friday, Apr 22, 2011)

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection scans more than a million inbound international parcels and pieces of mail at O’Hare each month.

    But this time of year they’re especially wary of an Easter treat called Kinder Eggs, which has been banned for sale and import into the United States.

    Once you open their chocolate shell, there’s a small capsule with tiny, plastic toys inside. 

    "They look harmless and they're supposedly very good tasting. However, they're a choking hazard," said Brian Bell with U.S Customs and Border Protection.

    Kinder Eggs are made by an Italian candy manufacturer. They're readily available and wildly popular in Europe, Latin America and Canada, where the chocolate treats are entirely legal.

    In the United States, however, they're outlawed by the Food and Drug Administration.

    "Anytime a manufacturer puts a product that is a non-food product into a food product, we consider that to be a safety hazard," said FDA Spokeswoman Lisa Misevicz. "We don’t want anyone biting into food and having something that you don’t expect.”

    "Obviously, kids in Germany can choke on them as well as kids here in America. We're just taking a proactive approach, trying to prevent them from getting into the country and causing harm to little children," said Bell.

    Customs and Border Protect made 1,700 different Kinder Egg seizures last year, intercepting about 25,000 individual eggs.

    They used to arrive by the shipping container, but in the wake of a heavy public relations campaign and heightened vigilance by federal officials, the number of seizures is down considerably this year.

    "Nobody in their right mind would attempt to import an ocean container of these eggs, because they just wouldn't make it in," said Bell.

    Most of the illegal imports make it to the U.S. through luggage on international flights or through mail delivery, he said.

    Customs and Border Enforcement earlier this week issued a new warning about the Kinder Egg ban.  Two Europeans packages containing the eggs were intercepted at O'Hare on Friday.

    "Our primary role is to protect the country. Whether it be from terrorists, whether it be from narcotics or small child from choking. If we can stop something from hurting a child, that’s what we’re going to do," stressed Bell.