Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Surprise There

Two  years ago, while heading across the U.S. border close to the Easter season, hubby and I encountered a guard who asked all the usual questions. "Where do you live? Why are you going to the U.S.? Is this your vehicle? What are you taking into the country?"

We responded to the latter question with, "Some delayed Christmas gifts and a basket of chocolate  bunnies and treats". The border guard looked pensive.

"You don't have any Kinder Surprise eggs do you?"

"No we don't," we responded in unison.

"Ok, go ahead," and we were on our way.

"That was strange," I said.

Hubby responded, "He must have been joking."

"Maybe he likes them and was hoping we had some. Or perhaps "Kinder Surprise" is some kind of code for drugs," I suggested.

We related this story to friends some time later and were told that in fact, Kinder Surprise eggs were illegal and banned in the U.S. Really? Baffling!

Today, I read this on the Yahoo  page.

Seattle pair detained for smuggling Canadian contraband – six Kinder Surprise eggs

The inner contents of the Kinder Surprise have led U.S. officials to ban them from the country over safety concerns. …
Forget drugs and guns. The hottest new item to smuggle over the border comes wrapped in a delicious chocolaty coating. If you're also wondering how a trunk containing six Kinder Surprise eggs landed two Seattle men in a detention center, you wouldn't be alone.

But as the Canadian Press reports, the U.S. has issued a ban against the popular Italian confection, citing the candy's small interior toy as a choking hazard for young children. Or in more formal (and ominous) terms, due to the presence of a "non-nutritive object" embedded inside them. For anyone attempting to import the chocolates into the country, the "surprise" in these particular Kinder eggs is a hefty fine of up to $2,500.

That was news to Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney, who told Seattle's KOMO-TV they had no idea the treats they were bringing home for family and friends after a recent jaunt to Van City would land them in hot water with the police.

In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Control claims they confiscated 60,000 Kinder Surprise from travelers' baggage in 2011 alone — more than double the amount of eggs from the previous year.

The pair spent two-and-a-half hours explaining to officers that they were not, in fact, running a sophisticated criminal cabal designed to threaten the safety American toddlers via milk chocolate. And unlike the treats he originally wanted to bring home, the experience left a bitter taste in Sweeney's mouth.

"They wasted our time," Sweeney told KOMO News. "They wasted the money spent on the agents to do this and there are other cars that went through without checking them at all."
Of course, the pressing question in this entire story is what happens to all those seized eggs? The sheer volume would require several rooms' worth of storage in the Border Control warehouse.
(Photo courtesy CBC)

Let me get this straight. Unlike the rest of the world, U.S. parents are unable to supervise their children while they consume this potentially deadly piece of chocolate? Kinder Surprise eggs pose a hazard to American children but guns in their homes do not?

In 2010, thirty children a day were injured or died because of weapons in their home. Are the American authorities seriously suggesting that Kinder Surprise eggs pose a greater risk? Let's use some common sense and get your priorities straight folks!

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