Edible bird’s nest seller fined $31,500 for illegal foods for sale on WeChat

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

An Auckland beauty salesperson was fined $31,500 for possession, selling and attempting to sell through the social media channel WeChat, dry edible bird's nests, which are unauthorised goods in New Zealand.

Linying Ouyang, 30, pleaded guilty to 3 charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and was sentenced yesterday in the Waitakere District Court.

MPI national manager compliance investigations, Ron Scott says the offending was premeditated, and involved selling unauthorised goods for financial gain.

"Bird's nests are a Chinese delicacy made from the saliva of the Swiftlet bird. Swiftlets can carry avian diseases, and are a biosecurity risk. This is why untreated product is not allowed into New Zealand.

"Having edible bird's nests increase New Zealand's risk of exposure to avian pathogens. MPI takes a firm stance on cases involving bird's nests and this case shows our commitment to removing that risk."

The charges relate to incidents between 8 May 2019 and 25 November 2019. A search warrant was executed at Ms Ouyang's home on 25 November 2019.

Ms Ouyang's cellphone and laptop were seized as part of the examination along with records of WeChat conversations. These revealed 2 completed sales and 4 attempts to sell dry edible bird's nests through a WeChat group where she advertised edible bird's nests for sale. Ms Ouyang also posted a photo of the dry edible bird's nests she was selling. The total value of edible bird's nests sold by Ms Ouyang was $765.

All New Zealanders are reminded that if they are concerned about any suspicious imported animal products to contact Biosecurity New Zealand on 0800 80 99 66. Calls can be confidential upon request.

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