UAE bans Filipino delicacy in travel luggage


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai has warned Filipinos from sneaking in their luggage a favorite delicacy called balut, or cooked duck eggs, the unauthorized transport of which is illegal in the UAE.

The Philippine consulate on Tuesday issued an advisory warning Filipinos that it “recently received several reports from various individuals regarding the confiscation of Philippine duck eggs (balut) upon entry into Dubai as ‘pasalubong’ (gift) from the Philippines”.

“Balut”, usually a 16- to 21-day-old boiled fertilised duck egg, is a popular Filipino delicacy also common in other Southeast Asian countries.

“The entry of commercial and non-commercial quantities [for personal consumption] of balut into Dubai without necessary customs/health certificates may result in confiscation by Customs authorities and possible delay in immigration clearance of the bearer,” the advisory read.

Some Filipinos have been caught with dozens of balut and even salted eggs in their luggage. Airport authorities do not allow this because of the strict import rules of the UAE.

According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, any shipment of table eggs should comply with the import conditions referred to by the Veterinary Quarantine Act No 6 of 1979.

Those that do not meet regulations will be stopped as per quarantine procedures and reshipped, destroyed or confiscated.

According to the ministry, the person importing table eggs should present a health certificate indicating the production and expiry dates of the eggs.

It should also indicate that the eggs have been produced in farms free from salmonella and bird flu.

The ministry clearly states that the eggs should be “unfertilized, fresh, intact, and fit for human consumption”. They should also be produced by egg-laying chickens, classified in a farm licensed from the exporting country.

When importing eggs, they should be placed in clean and proper boxes and not smuggled in personal luggage.

Balut is served both by street hawkers as well as upscale restaurants in the Philippines. It forms part of popular Filipino folklore and is described in a Tagalog song as a “knee-booster”. Urban legend has it that “balut” comes with a list of health benefits, including as a male fertility lifter.

In 2005, a low-risk version of bird flu was found at a Philippine duck farm. Bird flu had in the past ravaged other South East Asian poultry industries.