A Kenyan man in Stuttgart is definitely furious after the customs office in Stuttgart confiscated his consignment of Odowa stones from Kenya.
Usually when the customs office finds a parcel sent to Germany from abroad containing stones, they are either building stones or (semi) precious stones. However, of this fateful day, they encountered strange looking stones from a parcel coming in from Kenya and they were at a complete loss at what to do with them.
Further research found the gravel-looking stones that had travelled for 6,000km to Winninden were Odowa stones, that are eaten in many parts of Africa by women to supplement sources of iron, calcium and minerals during pregnancy. These stones are known to carry a health risk and may even lead to some kind of addiction.
In light of this, the Odowa stones in Germany fall under the Medicinal Products Act (Arzneimittelgesetz) that forbids private persons from importing medicines and drugs. Despite this regulation, the customs officers receive quite a number of medicinal products in the packages sent in from many other countries.
“In prohibiting importation of medicines from third states, we’re partly protecting the recipient from themselves. Unfortunately, when processing packages, we repeatedly discover dubious anti-cancer drugs from the Far East, blue potency pills from Thailand or counterfeit branded medicines. However when I heard of edible stones, I actually thought it would be some type of rare fish,” Bianca Schmidt, an officer at the customs office in Stuttgart said.
Whether the man imported the three kilograms of stones for his own use or for resale could not be clarified conclusively. But a resale of the stones would not have made him wealthy considering the three kilos cost less than one Euro and the shipping must have probably cost him thrice their value.