Customs officers in southeast China have confiscated and destroyed 23kg of frozen breast milk from a Chinese woman returning from Singapore, according to local media.
South China Morning Post reported that the frozen breast milk had been stored in 89 plastic bags, labelled with times and dates, and was discovered as the woman went through customs at the Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport in Fujian province, Quanzhou Evening News reported on Friday.
It was not the first such case in the province, but local authorities said the amount of frozen breast milk confiscated was the most they had come across in recent years.
The woman, who was not identified, told customs officers the frozen breast milk was for her own baby but could not explain its source, the report said. She had failed to go through the necessary steps that were required in advance for quarantine approval, according to the customs officers.
The woman arrived in Quanzhou on flight MU238 from Singapore on Friday last week. Officers discovered the breast milk in a large insulated bag when it was passed through an X-ray machine during customs clearance.
They told the newspaper that the frozen breast milk was confiscated because it was unclear where it had come from and where it was being taken. The woman was allowed to continue on her journey after she was questioned.
All milk and its by-products – except for infant formula – must be approved by quarantine authorities in advance before it can be brought into China by refrigerated transport.
A black market for breast milk has emerged in the country in recent years as breastfeeding becomes more accepted and the health benefits more widely recognised.
Although it is illegal, breast milk – often frozen and stored in sterilised bags – is advertised for sale online through baby forums and on major shopping platforms in China.
In a similar case, customs officers at Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, also in Fujian, seized and destroyed 21.7kg of frozen breast milk packed in more than 160 bags in March last year, local media reported. It was being carried by a Taiwanese passenger arriving from Taipei, who also said it was for her own baby.