SEIZURES of smuggled food at Birmingham Airport increased by over a tenth last year, inspectors say.
And the food overwhelmingly smuggled the the airport was found to be Betel leaves.
The leaves are used in Paan, a chewing mix popular amongst Indians and Bangladeshis.
The mix is a stimulant and mild psychoactive drug – said to be as strong as six espresso coffees.
Airport food inspectors at Solihull Council say their work increased in the last year, as the government looks to crack down on Betel smuggling.
The number of food packages rejected for import by inspectors was similar – from 18 to 16 year on year.
In its annual Food Safety Plan to brief the Food Standards Agency on inspections, Solihull Council said it was working to prevent smuggling through Birmingham Airport.
The food safety team said: “Betel leaf imports had either arrived from prohibited countries or failed microbiological analysis.
“The FSA is keen to increase imported food controls on Betel leaves arriving at Birmingham International to prevent “triangular trade”. This is where Betel leaves are imported into the UK from a banned country of source. The product is re-routed through a legal originating country and labelled and described as such to avoid detection.”