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USDA Encourages Summer Travelers to Protect American Agriculture by Not Packing a Pest

Whether you’re studying abroad in Europe, traveling on business in Asia, or taking that dream vacation to Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is urging summer travelers to join us in the fight against invasive pests by not packing a pest.

While agricultural products make tempting souvenirs, invasive pests can hitchhike on fruits, vegetables, meats, processed foods, plants, and handicraft items.  If these invasive pests were to become established in the United States, they could devastate urban and rural landscapes and cost billions of dollars in lost revenue and eradication efforts.  As a result, APHIS restricts or prohibits the entry of certain agricultural products from foreign countries and from Hawaii and U.S. territories.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers or agriculture specialists with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will inspect your baggage when you first arrive in the United States to ensure that the agricultural items you are carrying are allowable under APHIS regulations.  Be sure to declare all agricultural items to CBP officers or CBP agriculture specialists at the first port of entry.  Failure to declare food products can result in fines and penalties.

The following food items are generally allowed entry, but should still be declared and presented to a CBP agriculture specialist or CBP officer for inspection:

  • Condiments such as oil, vinegar, mustard, catsup, pickles, syrup, honey without honey combs, jelly, and jam
  • Foodstuffs such as bakery items, candy, and chocolate
  • Hard cured cheeses without meat, such as parmesan or cheddar
  • Canned goods and goods in vacuum packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products, and those containing certain dairy products) for personal use
  • Fish or fish products for personal use
  • Powdered drinks sealed in original containers with ingredients listed in English.
  • Dry mixes containing dairy and egg ingredients (such as baking mixes, cocoa mixes, drink mixes, instant cake mixes, instant pudding mixes, liquid drink mixes containing reconstituted dry milk or dry milk products, potato flakes, and infant formula) that are commercially labeled, presented in final finished packaging, and require no further manipulation of the product are generally allowed.

You may also be allowed to bring back certain fresh fruits and vegetables, animal products and by-products, plants and plant parts for planting, cut flowers, firewood, or miscellaneous agricultural products, depending on the item and its country of origin.  APHIS encourages travelers to be aware of restrictions pertaining to agricultural products before leaving the United States and to use these as guidelines when purchasing souvenirs.  For comprehensive information on importing agricultural items for personal use, visit APHIS’ Agricultural Information for International Travelers Web page at www.aphis.usda.gov/travel.

13 Responses to “USDA Encourages Summer Travelers to Protect American Agriculture by Not Packing a Pest”

  1. Eszter says:

    Are the following food items allowed to enter the United States:
    - instant soup mixes containing 6% meet
    - bouillon cubes
    - dried mushrooms commercially packaged
    - canned feta like cheese?
    The country of origin is Romania

    Thank you!

  2. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    Thank you for your question, Eszter. We can tell you that importation of animal meat products from most foreign countries is prohibited due to the threat of animal diseases. Processed pork is the only meat product approved for import from Romania. Instant soup mix containing 6% meat or bouillon cubes may be acceptable only if they’re pork products. Canned or solid feta cheese is generally permitted, as are dried, commercially-packaged mushrooms. It is very important that all food products be declared at the port of entry, and Customs and Border Protection agents will make the final determination on these products. This is crucial since the admissibility of a given item can change very quickly because disease and pest outbreaks can occur anywhere in the world at any time.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Kylee says:

    I was wondering if vacuum-sealed Jamon Iberico from Spain is allowed back into the US?

    Thanks!

  4. Johane Lanoie says:

    Coming from Canada can I bring a lunch bag with salmon, tuna or eggs sandwiches?

  5. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Kylee – This product is not allowable due to the presence of a number of swine diseases in Spain.

    @Johane – Yes, these items can enter the United States from Canada but be sure to keep them food safe!

    Keeping “Bag” Lunches Safe

  6. Robert Smith says:

    A printed brochure can be provided to all travelers who are leaving/entering US about the importance of the exercise and what items are allowed/not-allowed will be very helpful to clear the confusion.

  7. Jef says:

    Hi Rebecca. I know that some Spanish slaughterhouses have been approved to export cured ham to the US in the last few years (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/pdf/Countries_Products_Eligible_for_Export.pdf) and that some companies have begun importing. Is there a list of approved slaughterhouses available and, if so, what are the requirements a US company is required to go through in order to import ham from them?

  8. Napoleon_Animal_Farm says:

    Hi Rebecca, here is an update on good Spanish Ham… It is eligible to be brought… http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/4872809d-90c6-4fa6-a2a8-baa77f48e9af/Countries_Products_Eligible_for_Export.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

  9. Napoleon_Animal_Farm says:

    With all fairness to Rebecca, we can sit at the table, with products from Spain if they are from this approved list…

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/825e890a-37ba-4557-9255-a5e63894c126/Spain_establishments.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

  10. Ai says:

    Can I bring instant soup cups back from Japan? There is a special soup (salmon-milk-soup) that I would like to bring back — it is powdered and sealed in a cup — kind of like cup ramen but no noodles. It is made of freeze dried salmon, potatoes and onions. I heard that if the ingredients are not listed in English then the customs officer could possibly confiscate the food item but that hardly seems fair since you are bringing in food from a different country. Most countries list ingredients in their own language after all. Thank you!

  11. Alessia says:

    Hi, I would like to mail vacuum-sealed Jamon Iberico from Spain to the United States. Is that allowed? Or is it just allowed to be brought over in my checked bag, when I fly back to the United States.

  12. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Ai – Thank you for your question. Here is information on the importation of dry soup mixes:

    Dry soup mixes are dehydrated soup mixes containing meat. Some mixes contain rice or pasta; some are just a powder mixture. All mixes must be commercially prepared. Directions for preparing the soup must only be adding hot water, or adding water followed by a microwave treatment. The directions must not include cooking. The meat may be in a powder form or in dried pieces the size of bouillon cubes or silver dollars. Ingredients may all be in one package or envelope, or may be in a bowl or cup with some of the ingredients in separate envelopes within the bowl or cup. Additional information can be found in our Animal Product Manual: Appendix A at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/ports/apm.shtml

  13. Jesus Melendez says:

    regarding the topic of spanish meats (in particular Iberian Ham, Iberian Loin,…), do you know the steps a spanish company needs to take to be added to the list mentioned above?, or what would be the first source of information to find about this?
    thanks

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