One major thing that gives pleasure and induces fun when traveling to another country is the variation of delicacies you get to try. Most times, the thought of leaving all those delicious goodies and returning to the United States without them can be heartbreaking.
One would think the best option is to take some foreign foods alongside your luggage as you return home. A fact that isn’t well-known is that such an action could land you in legal trouble.
The FDA and Customs Border Patrol have compiled an official list of what you can pass through the airport with. If you get caught with undeclared edibles, you could be fined up to $10,000. We have compiled a list based on extensive research so you can know what foods you can (and can’t) bring into the USA.
Few people experience difficulties when bringing fish and seafood into the USA. The only difficulty faced is regarding the quantity of seafood or fish being imported. According to the rules of the USA, only personal quantities of seafood is allowed past the border.
As long as they do not pass the quantity limit, any kind of fish including fresh, canned, dried, and smoked varieties can be imported.
2. Cheese and Dairy Products
There are a large number of rules that guide cheese products. As long as they do not contain meat, solid or hard cheese is allowed. This rules out bacon cheddar cheese. Semi-soft cheese can be allowed past customs but soft and creamy cheese is not allowed.
For health and safety reasons, cheese gotten from countries with Foot and Mouth diseases is strictly banned. For milk and dairy products, they are not allowed unless they are to be consumed by infants.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Any restrictions on this food category are not dependent on the type of fruit or vegetable alone but its source. Getting into details can get confusing but if you want help, you can check the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) database for pertinent information on foods from a lot of countries.
Almost every fruit imported is not allowed in the United States. The only ones exempted are dried fruits such as figs, raisins, dates, apricots, etc. Clean-rooted ginger, coconuts without husks, and peeled ginger are also allowed.
4. Bread, Grains, and Pasta
This is another food category that is allowed to be imported freely by the US Customs. Except they are packages with meat or egg, any products made with flour including ramen, bread, noodles, and others are allowed.
The importation of grains is not recommended as there might be insects present in them. Grains like rice are allowed past the checkpoint once the hull has been removed. The importation of rice from countries like Turkey, India, and Turkey is banned. Various bread kinds and dry pasta are not allowed.
The importation of raw eggs or food items that contain eggs would get you in trouble before you can blink. The only exception to this might be to bring in cooked eggs and even in that case, the eggs have to be from Mexico. Next time you’re considering carrying a jumbo-sized raw egg, do yourself a solid and rethink it.
6. Meat and Poultry
The importation of any form of meat or poultry products is banned and frowned upon by the US Customs. They allow the importation of canned meat that is neither goat nor lamb from countries where there is no case of Mad Cow Disease.
Whether if the meat or poultry product is canned or not, it is prohibited from countries like Canada where there is a presence of Mad Cow Disease. You can import pork from Mexico as long as it is in small quantities and is for instant consumption with a meal.
7. Alcoholic and Non-alcoholic Beverages
All alcoholic beverages are slowed into the United States without causing any problems and are tax-free for as long as it is in small quantities and for personal consumption only. If it is being imported in any amount that is above the stipulated quantities, there will be a tax placed on the goods. A tax placed on alcohol depends on the state it is imported into.
Non-alcoholic beverages like roasted coffee beans with no pulp, commercially canned juice in its powdered form, and tea are allowed as long as all their major ingredients are shown in English. The US Customs does not permit coca and loose citrus leaves.
8. Spices and Condiments
When importing spices into the United States, almost all of them are allowed. The only exceptions to this are dried spices from the citrus family. This means that oranges, lemons, and limes are all banned.
The rules guiding condiment importation are just as flexible. That is why common condiments found in households such as ketchup are allowed. The exceptions to this are curry leaves.
The United States does not seem to have any restrictions regarding the importation of this food category. This is good news for lovers of nut and nut-containing products. There still are guidelines that have to be adhered to.
Raw nuts such as almonds and cashews are only permitted if their shells have been removed. Steamed, cooked, boiled, dried, or roasted nuts are allowed to pass through US Customs freely.
10. Packaged and Baked Foods
You would think that these kinds of foods will be allowed into the United States as their safety is almost guaranteed. Sadly, they are restricted by other food categories. Canned foods, candies, chocolate, and related food items are permitted into the United States as long as they contain no form of meat or egg.
Some baked and packaged foreign products, for one reason or another, do not pass FDA set safety regulations. They are to be thrown away before entry into the United States.
Next time you cannot satisfy your food cravings in another country, take a very good look at this guide before you decide to return with any food item. This action could save you a lot of money and help you prevent embarrassing scenes.