A Mongolian woman was stopped from entering New Zealand after yak meat and homemade Mongolian cheese was found on her.
The woman arrived at Auckland Airport last week. She did not speak any English but was carrying a note from her daughter saying she was bringing food from home.
The food turned out to be yak meat wrapped in tinfoil. Security also found homemade Mongolian cheese in her luggage.
"She had carried the food all the way from Mongolia, but there was no way we could permit it to enter New Zealand," said Ministry of Primary Industries Auckland Airport manager Dave Sims.
"The food could have been harbouring a number of devastating animal diseases.
"Mongolian livestock has been afflicted by foot-and-mouth disease. This is a disease we definitely don't want in New Zealand. It has the potential to wipe some $16 billion from the New Zealand economy."
The ministry was, however, pleased the woman had declared the food before entering New Zealand.
"Her family knew enough about New Zealand's biosecurity rules to ensure she could alert us that she was carrying potential risk items.
"This shows that New Zealand's biosecurity message is spreading -- even to the outer reaches of Mongolia."