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Strict poultry, egg checks to ensure safe consumption

Whether it is chicken, duck, or eggs, by the time these imports reach the consumer’s plate, stringent checks will have been undertaken to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

SINGAPORE: Whether it is chicken, duck, or eggs -- by the time these imports reach the consumer’s plate, stringent checks will have been undertaken to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

In 2013, Malaysia contributed to as much as 70 per cent of Singaporeans' consumption of eggs.

In the last three years, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said only about 10 consignments of poultry and eggs from Malaysia have been refused entry into Singapore.

These were for not having proper documentation. AVA has also not detected any cases of diseases in live poultry so far.

AVA's border control inspection officers at Tuas Checkpoint perform checks on chicken, duck and egg imports from Malaysia to ensure they are disease-free and come from approved sources.

At the checkpoint, the first trucks carrying eggs arrive just before 5am.

After checking the documentation, the officer will take a closer look to see if the eggs carry the correct farm code.

For live chickens and ducks, the officer also looks out for signs of sickly birds -- from diarrhoea and various discolourations, to other signs of distress and even dead birds in the crates.

The whole process, from checking the trucks and the paperwork, to uploading the information inside the office, takes about 10 minutes per truck.

But there are other checks that occur before the imports reach the border.

AVA accredits the originating country of the consignment as well as the individual farm or processing plant.

Before they leave Malaysia, the consignments need to be accompanied by permits and health certifications.

More than 100 trucks from Malaysia pass through the checkpoint every day, bringing with them more than 160,000 live chickens and ducks, as well as four million eggs. The majority of them come in early and by 7am, this process will have slowed to a trickle.

Sometimes though, the officers get other visitors.

Dr Prabhpreet Kaur, deputy director for quarantine and border control at AVA’s quarantine department, said: "We get dogs and cats, small furries like hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits. We also get the zoo animals that come from Malaysia that come through here. We get horses... (and there are) vaccines that need to be checked... Anything that comes by road that needs to be checked at the border comes through here."

For these animals, the next stop will usually be the quarantine station. 

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