The hollowed-out, colored eggshells known as Cascarones that children (and adults) fling at each other often appear around the time of the Easter holiday and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unit is reminding travelers that Cascarones are a restricted commodity.
When the Cascarones hit their targets, they explode with a shower of confetti. These “confetti eggs” reportedly first appeared in Asia and were brought to Italy by Marco Polo. At that time, the eggs were filled with perfumed powder. The commodity later made its way to Spain and then were further popularized in Mexico where they are thrown during fiestas that take place during Lent.
CBP regulates these Easter “eggs” to prevent the spread of Newcastle Disease and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) through contaminated eggshells. Travelers are restricted to 12 Cascarones per person. “[T]he shells may be decorated, etched, or painted but they must be clean, dry, and free of any egg residue. They may contain confetti or other unregulated items.” Newcastle Disease is highly contagious and has a mortality rate of up to 90 percent for exposed birds, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, partridges, pheasants, quail, pigeons, and ostriches. Because Mexico is affected with Newcastle Disease and HPAI, all fresh eggs, raw chicken, and live birds or poultry from Mexico are prohibited from the United States.
Easter is not the only religious holiday that concerns CBP when it comes to controlling harmful pests and diseases from the United States. The Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot also raises some agricultural concerns when it comes to ethrogs (a yellow citrus fruit), palm fronds, and twigs of willow and myrtle that are used as ceremonial objects. Most of these objects are allowed into the United States after inspection by a CBP agricultural specialist if no pests or symptoms of disease are found.
CBP jurisdiction includes using specialists to defend the United States from potential agricultural threats. While traditionally, agricultural inspections focused on the unintentional introduction of pests or diseases, CBP has increased its focus on agro-terrorism.