An Auckland woman has been fined $31,500 for selling "edible bird's nest" on WeChat.
Linying Ouyang, 30, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and was sentenced yesterday in the Waitakere District Court.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) national manager compliance investigations, Ron Scott, said bird's nests were a Chinese delicacy made from the saliva of the swiftlet bird, which can carry diseases.
"[They] are a biosecurity risk and this is why untreated products are not allowed into New Zealand."
Scott said the offending was premeditated, and involved selling unauthorised goods for financial gain.
"Having edible bird's nests increases 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."
Food safety and veterinary public health expert Nigel French said generally there were infectious diseases that people could get from wild birds and any contact with this kind of material could potentially be a source of either direct infection or a food safety concern.
"Wild animals can be a source of new and emerging infectious diseases. It may be extremely unlikely, it's not something that can be ruled out.
"Any exotic infection coming into New Zealand could pose a potentially problem."
The charges relate to incidents between May 8 and November 25 last year. A search warrant was executed at Ouyang's home on November 25, last year.
Ouyang's cellphone and laptop were seized as part of the examination along with records of WeChat conversations.
Findings revealed two completed sales and four attempts to sell dry edible bird's nests through a WeChat group where she advertised edible bird's nests for sale.
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 Ouyang was $765.
MPI said all New Zealanders were reminded that if they were concerned about any suspicious imported animal products to contact Biosecurity New Zealand on: 0800 80 99 66. Calls could be confidential upon request.