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Here Comes the Year of the Dragon: How to Honor the Asian New Year while Protecting American Agriculture

Okay, Times Square, you had your big New Year’s Eve bash.  Now it’s time to usher in the Asian Lunar New Year—the Year of the Dragon—which starts on January 23.  Many Asian Americans and their friends are looking forward to enjoying traditional foods, gifts, and parades during this holiday of great cultural significance.

If you’re in on the celebration, you may find it tempting to import tastes of Asia for the festivities.  You may be ordering online or bringing food back from a trip overseas.  USDA is eager to provide you with the information you need to ensure that these items won’t harm America’s agricultural and natural resources.  Some agricultural items from certain Asian countries could be carrying pests or diseases that could seriously damage America’s crops, livestock, forests, rangeland, or community landscapes.  Avoiding these items will help make the Year of the Dragon a prosperous and happy one.

Below are some lists of agricultural items from Asia that have been intercepted and seized by U.S. customs and agricultural officials during this time of year.  Please keep in mind that this is not a complete listing of restricted or prohibited items.  If you have any questions about what’s allowed into the country, feel free to call or e-mail USDA officials using the contact information below.

Meat and animal products that have been seized around the Asian Lunar New Year:

  • China:  Moon cake, which contains egg; egg yolks; whole chicken; bird’s nest products; Jinhua ham.
  • Philippines:  Various duck species, magic sarap.
  • South Korea:  Dumplings (pot stickers), fish sausage.
  • Vietnam:  Chicken and duck feet, shredded pork skin.

Plant commodities and other products that have been seized around the Asian Lunar New Year:

  • China: Bloodgrass and arrowhead plants (both Federal noxious weeds), oranges, tangerines.
  • South Korea:  Asian pears, tangerines.
  • Various Asian countries:  Burdock root, cirguelas (mombin), egg fruit and citrus products such as sweet limes, garlic stems, guavas, pitahaya, tejocotes, tropical pitahaya, wild rice.

Giving wonderful citrus gifts is also common during this holiday.  Click here to learn four things you should know before ordering U.S. citrus to help stop the spread of citrus disease.

Finally, don’t hesitate to contact USDA if you’re planning to import Asian agricultural items or other plant and animal products into the United States.

For plants and plant products, including fruits and vegetables, call the USDA Permit Unit at (301) 734-0841 or toll-free at (877) 770-5990, or email

For soil, live plant pests, biological control agents, or noxious weeds, call (866) 524-5421 or email

For animal products or by-products, call USDA’s National Center for Import and Export at (301) 734-3277, or email

3 Responses to “Here Comes the Year of the Dragon: How to Honor the Asian New Year while Protecting American Agriculture”

  1. Sean Blount says:

    Nice Tweet Greg!

  2. Mimi says:

    As an adult, I had forgotten how bringing anything from another country could actually affect my countries food source. I wish you guys could periodically get this message out to everyone. I think sometimes people need to be reminded of the important things in life and this is definitely one of them. But, as I write this, I’m wondering how I would know if the asian foods I’m purchasing here, in this country, were grown here or imported and if they are a problem source? Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Annabel Black says:

    Thanks for the info…. it’s easy to celebrate and forget the well-being of our agriculture.

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