CINCINNATI – Agriculture specialists with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently confiscated 1,272 lbs of mooncakes and 359 lbs of other prohibited items.

The seizures were the result of Special Operation Over the Moon in which the agency intensified inspections of freight coming from China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival which is celebrated in early October. The festival also is known as the Mooncake Festival for the pastries which are traditionally given to family members and business associates during the holiday. Mooncakes are filled with lotus seed or bean paste and salted duck egg yolks.

“These pastries are highly valued and can cost hundreds of dollars; however, because of animal diseases endemic to many Southwest Asia countries, egg products from that region pose a high risk to American agriculture,” CBP said. “China and most Southwest Asian counties are hosts to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND).”

Both HPAI and vND cause high mortality rates in poultry. CBP said vND is not found in the United States, and the agency’s agriculture specialists want to keep it that way.

“Our specialists perform a critical border security role in safeguarding America’s agricultural and natural resources from harmful pests, and plant and animal diseases,” said Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Barbara Hassan.

Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie said, “Our Cincinnati agriculture specialists consistently display exceptional work ethic and dedication. I’m very proud of their commitment to American agriculture and our mission.”