Keep banned foodstuffs out of the US

by Robert Szostek United States European Command Customs Public Affairs Office

WIESBADEN, Germany —Personnel shipping household goods to the United States this summer should be careful when packing the contents of their kitchen, agriculture officials advise. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection issues fines of $100 to $1,000 to first-time offenders who ignore the strict rules that apply to sending food products stateside.

“Red meats, sausages, pates and salami can harbor animal viruses, even if canned and are therefore barred from import,” said Julie Aliaga-Milos, U.S. Department of Agriculture adviser to the U.S. European Command.

Even pasta or soup mixes that contain dried meats are not allowed, she added. Foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE or mad cow disease, are examples of animal diseases that need to be prevented from entering the U.S. this way.

Household goods such as fresh fruits and vegetables may not be sent to the U.S. because they can contain the eggs or larvae of voracious pests. The Mediterranean fruit fly is a good example of a bug that can hide in citrus and other fruits to bypass our defenses.

However, it’s OK to ship processed fruit and vegetable products such as canned fruit, olive oil, mustard and canned or processed sauces. There are no restrictions on fish or mushrooms either, Aliaga-Milos said. Commercially produced dried herbs and spices, tea, roasted coffee, cured cheeses, cakes, candies, cookies and roasted nuts are also OK.

To find out more about importing food, plant and animal products into the U.S., visit the CBP website at