A cross-border kerfuffle over a popular chocolate treat nearly cost a Winnipeg woman a $300 fine and saddled her with a bureaucratic headache.
Lind Bird was recently stopped at the U.S. border and selected for a random search of her vehicle. She was warned she could have faced a fine after the customs official found — and seized — her $2 Kinder Surprise egg as illegal contraband.
Bird learned U.S. authorities have banned the candy because they come with a plastic toy inside that could, if eaten, choke a small child.
"It's just a chocolate egg," Bird said. "And they were making a big deal. They said 'if you were caught with this across the border you would get charged a $300 fine,'" she said.
"It's ridiculous. It's so ridiculous," she added.
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In Canada, however, officials said the eggs are so difficult to get into there's little chance they could harm anyone. As such, they are legal.
The U.S. takes catching illegal Kinder candy seriously, judging by the number of them they've confiscated in the last year. Officials said they've seized more than 25,000 of the treats in 2,000 separate seizures.
"They have been determined to present … a choking hazard to young children," said Mike Milne, a spokesman for the U.S. department of customs and border protection. Milne said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration supports the Kinder Surprise ban.
As trivial as the border seizure may seem, Bird said the U.S. government has sent her a seven-page letter asking her to formally authorize the destruction of her seized Kinder egg.
"I thought it was a joke. I had to read it twice. But they are serious," she said.
The letter states if Bird wishes to contest the seizure, she'll have to pay $250 for it to be stored as the two sides wrangle over it.
A comprehensive list of items Canadians can't import into the U.S. can be found here.