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ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

You know, you asked what happened. I tell you. You ask again, I tell you again.

Then you have to "infer" and "read between the lines." Bud, there isn't any thing beyond that. We find it, we spill it down the drains.

Still, if you read my earlier posts, any inspection that is a positive gets recorded in our computer system. Next time you come be boppin through the lines, of course we are going to see what happened last time. Failure to declare once is an honest mistake. Repetitive is a mark of someone who won't be truthful and might be hiding items that we really don't want into the USA.

Jan 18, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

New Year's Eve in Santa Fe?

we ended up driving to ALB from Dallas. Got stuck in Vaughn. Almost froze to death. Slept in our car along the side of NOWHERE. listened to horrible New Mexico road reports that told us about how not to burn down the forests, but nothing about the roads we were on.

Anyway, we went to our hotel and had a nice dinner at the Las Posada Inn. It is home to the $98 burger or something like that. Ours was only like $18 (still a lot for a burger) but it was good. I guess if you get it all the way it is $98.

Although, if all you ate in four days was cheeze its and mountain dews, any burger would be tasty. So, I guess I withdraw my appreciation for the $98 burger.

I found santa fe to be pretentious and just STRANGE. It was like Ann Arbor on crack.

Jan 18, 2007
TheMan in Southwest

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

clerks will tell you what they want to make a sale. If you don't declare and try to hide it, you risk a bigger fine ($1000). Your statement "I feel I should not be categorically stopped from bringing back something I will consume myself. " makes you sound like you don't care for the law at all. Or, only the ones you want to follow because you believe in them.
Some folks will eat the entire sausage they bring into the US. Some will have a little left over that they can't eat so they dump it into the garbage. Know where your garbage goes? Really know where it goes? Some garbage sometimes ends up in the mouths of swine and that is the risk. Risk is 1 in a mil, but people play the lottery all the time with higher odds than that and they sometimes win. Swine fever in the US would be a bad day. Very bad day indeed.

Jan 18, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

nah. my first week, a very experienced and wise ag spec showed me the nuances of the mango weevil and I too was amazed. No damage on the fruit at all. I was like "why can't that enter?" a crack of the seed pod was all I needed to see. Little guys fell out and danced all over the place.

Still, being an entomologist, you would not believe the amount of insect parts that are allowed and could be found in...say...peanut butter. For one of my classes, we took a bottle of PB off the shelf from a Grocer and separated the peanut butter from the parts. Legs and heads galore. It just can't be avoided. Oh well, more protein I reckon.

Jan 18, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

we spill it down the drain.

wait a couple weeks until fidel is dead and then it might change.

Jan 18, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

Well, if it is Cuban rum MADE in Cuba (i.e., Hecho in Cuba) than yeah, of course we will seize it. Items made in or from Cuba are no-gos. Same as North Korea. The same reason why cuban cigars are destroyed as is cuban coffee. But, you can find "Cuban rum" made in the dominican and in mexico all over the place. Heck, I saw some in a local liquor store in Ohio not too long ago. Closer look revealed that it was made in Mexico but sold under the name "Cuban rum". SOOOOOOOOOOOOO...no items made in cuba allowed. Unless you are a national of that country. Then the caveats start to apply. But, Joe blow USCitizen who was not born in cuba will not be bringing back Cuban rum.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

sorry, in your original post you said Dog, or I thought you said dog, so I replied to that. A bull is a ruminant so it does fall under our concern list.

No, the risk is the feces or soil that you may bring on your shoes. That is a foot and mouth item. some folks walk around and get stuff all over their shoes and then walk to their feed lots back home and track the bacteria to their own animals. low risk, but we like to ask the folks some more detailed questions to see what the deal is. We get a few USDA vets that come through a lot and if we don't do their shoes, they get all out of sorts with us so we treat everyone as if they are a USDA vet.

The rules change all the time though so it is best to just declare. You are right, you say you touch a farm animal and you will be referred to an Ag spec. Now, if that animal was a sick chicken in asia, than you would be talking to us and CDC as well. But, the chances are that joe/jane traveler go to asia and pick up a chicken are slight. even if they do, what can we really do unless you are bleeding from your head (doubtful!!!)

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

yeah, we get those at our port too. cans not labled are usually xrayed by themselves and you can easily spot mangos or fruits in them. We open to see if they are pickled, if not, it is considered concealment and the fine is a lot more ($1000). We've had people fall to their knees when we open a can up that isn't labled and find a dozen mangos in them. "BUT I WANTED THEM!" Then, we take it into the back and crack open the seed to find a little mango weevil hanging out in there. Mango weevils live inside the seed and are not visible on the skin or in the fruit. You take some PVC cutters out and crack into the seed and the little guys fall out.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

yeah, customs officials meet all cruise passengers. usually fruit is the biggie on cruises; no fruit enters the USA.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

THose are fine. all of those actually.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

well, chances are personal items are searched. the absinthe, if discovered, would be seized and destroyed and you'll get a little note from CBP that says what happened. You'll get the other non prohibited items back no prob.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

syrup is okay. ginseng, if it says Product of USA on packaging is fine. Dried dates are okay. earrings? are they studs? if so, than no. if not, than it depends on the type of material they are set in. some jewelry has around a 5% duty imposed on their value. pork is alright. beef is a no go. are you a US Citizen? if not, than you ahve a $200 free entry amount that can be brought into the US that is not dutiable. confusing, isn't it?

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

it is made from grapes, but is considered a liquor, right? so, you can bring back as much as you want, but it will be subject to duty. duty isn't outrageous since it is low proof (I presume it is low proof). So, a case can be brought in, but they will pay duty. Call the CBP port that they fly into and ask to speak to someone about duty. Then, you can get an idea of what the import taxes will be.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

cheese, as long as it isn't wet (i.e. milky) is okay. vacuum packing doesn't affect if it can come in or not. we seize meat all the time and the common response is "But, it is vacuumed packed." it does not matter.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

call the CBP port that you are entering and ask them if you want to bring back cases upon cases what you have to do.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

3 bottles and one person may be a duty charge. usually 2 bottles per person is okay. obviously, declare the alcohol as you purchased it abroad.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

yeah, that is fine.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

No beef.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

I work for US customs, not the Bahamas. Sorry, but I have no idea what they accept or not.

Jan 16, 2007
TheMan in Not About Food

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

Well, maybe it wasn't they said and they just lied to you, or maybe the inspector made a mistake. I wouldn't doubt either one at this stage of the game.

The audacity of some people and the lack of integrity is amazing. I, and my colleagues, will ask a person, DO YOU HAVE ANY FOOD? HOW ABOUT ANY FRUIT, SEEDS, PLANTS, VEGETABLES, MEAT, OR MEAT PRODUCTS? HOW ABOUT ANYTHING MADE FROM A BIRD, SWINE, OR COW? The passenger says "NO!" They get referred. I walk back to the inspection station. Open their bag, pull out apples, mangos, sausage, fatback, all kinds of stuff. I ask them "Do you remember me, I asked you about the food?"

They say: "Well it is vacummed packed!" Or, "Oh, I forgot!"
Yeah, they say "I forgot" as I pull the sausage from their purse where their declaration and passport is in the way of the documents they used to clear the first line before they even spoke to me. Or, "did you read this book on the plane?" The passenger says "of course I did, it is a bestseller...I am sure you never heard of it!" We then say "well, did you happen to see the giant orange right next to it? Why didn't you declare it?" "Uhhh, well, no...I didn't know it was there."

Come on! You had a chance to write it down. You didn't. You had a chance to orally declare when I asked you. You didn't. Now, you try and rationalize what you did was wrong was actually right?

The whole job sours you on humanity. It really does. The amount of lies that spews forth is amazing.

Top six:

Oh, my mom packed my bags, she must have slipped it in (try that with herorin, that will get you far).

Oh, it is for the baby.

Oh, well it is only an orange (FULL OF CANKER!)!

It is vacummed packed so I didn't declare it.

It isn't meat, it is sausage.

I just didn't want to be inspected for something so trivial.

You know, I understand the language barrier. I understand that you are tired and it is a long flight and you got another one to catch in 10 minutes. But, to straight up lie and then laugh and say "oh well, you can take it." is an insult. For god sakes, we now have the ability to not only seize your entire luggage for not declaring items, but to also bar you from entry into the US and send you back to the country you came from...even if you ARE a US Citizen! Why give us "permission" to seize an illegal item?

The best is when they say "I am sure you are hungry, go ahead and enjoy it." That is tantamount to telling a state trooper who stopped you for speeding "wow, you must be soooo bored to have stopped me for speeding 85 in a 25 mph school zone, but go ahead... have your fun with your little power trip...go ahead...you can do it."

UGH! you can see what kind of reaction that could get you.

Anyway, just declare your food.

The last list I want to leave you with:

What amazes so many people about us:
A lot of inspectors are educated to at least a BSc. A lot have waited 3 years in a long line to get the job. We care about what happens to the ag industry of the US. We make about $65K a year while doing a 40 hour work week. We are not idiots. We give you every chance to amend.

Dec 27, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

fish is okay. like makingsense said (lots of good info from this person by the way) insects crawling in it may cause seizure. most are flesh eating maggots and are okay. Beetles, however, cause some concern so the item will be seized.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

truffles-make sure there is no soil. call the cbp port you are going into and double check. truffles are expensive and you'd hate to have them seized. in my port they are inspect and release as I am sure that is the standard across the board. however, they are not too common and if you go to a port that doesn't have much exposure you may run into a lot of questions. i had one come through once, free of soil, have a nice trip. foie gras is okay and is pate...just no ruminant (deer or cow for example).
since you run a restaurant, if you bring in commercial items that you will resell at your business, than it must be declared as a commercial good and will be subject to duty. if you want to bring it back for your own pleasure, than it needs to only be declared as a food item.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

we seized some today and the woman said "but, that is so expensive." We often hear that so it just piqued my interest. thanks.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

nah, wine falls under a different category. like i said though, as long as it isn't commercial (you will sell it in the states). personal use wine is fine. Now, I am not saying if you bring back 8 bottles that you won't get asked or referred for another inspection. But, I am saying that wine for personal consumption is not dutiable, as of now.

Oh, and if the person is 21 also. we had a few under 21 folks come through with wine. The rules of the federal govt still apply. If you are under 21 and bring it over to the states, go back and drink it with your buddies and end up in a car accident, that is awful. For us to find it, say "now now, be careful" and let it go down the road is irresponsible for us.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

nope. you would have gotten fined if you didn't declare it. it would have been seized. declared, just seized. we don't shut down the airport and detain someone for that type of infraction.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

yeah, states have different laws. i work at an airport, so that is my knowledge base. flying into a country is one thing, driving across the border is another.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

wine is duty free. that is the reg for wine. spirits, however, fall under a different reg. unless you bring back a ton of it or it is for commercial sale. a ton is like you bring back a case of wine and you are the only person on the dec. you have a family or your spouse, than that is okay.

Dec 26, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

What port did you enter? When was it? We do get a lot of fish with maggots (NOT SAYING YOURS HAD MAGGOTS!) and I could see how a new ag spec would see a bag of meat with insects and seize the whole bag. Also, the fact that you were in transient should have been taken into consideration if it was in your checked baggage.

Again, port policy is big.

We get so much fish from Nigeria and Kenya, that I couldn't even count the times I've seen it. That item is Inspected and released. Sometimes, we get bush meat that comingles with the fish and the whole lot has to be seized.

Again, I don't know what to tell you on this one. The amount of inspections that take place are incredible. If you only had fish, and there were no insects, and it was declared, and it was enterable at the time (which it should have been...unless it was at a time I did not work for CBP), then I apologize for what happened.

Was it seized by CBP or by Fish and Wildlife. F AND W operates under different regs and the tuna (with dolphin) or sailfish may be regulated by them...but that is a stretch. Again, I would have to know when it came in and I would also have to talk to a Fish and wildlife specialist to see what their regs were then.

Dec 25, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

Ugh, now you move to the area that is up to the FFA and TSA. Carry on ice cream...with the new changes, I don't think that would work. However, if you don't have another flight after you land (You fly into the port that is close to your home), then that depends on what the security in the country you leave will allow. Dry Ice...I would think that would be not allowed, but you'll have to check. Some people buy these styrofoam coolers and tape them shut with ice bags in them. They then put them in boxes or their luggage. Now, obviously, that item looks wierd on an xray so it will be opened (box of ice cream looks just like brick of dope!). SO, people come prepared for the matter with tape in hand. Also, you got to hope that it doesn't get lost cause you will get a soggy bag when it finally comes to you. But, you'd be surprised what people do to get their stuff over.

Dec 25, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food

ANYONE WITH US CUSTOMS QUESTIONS?

fois gras, as of now, is okay if it isn't a ruminant and doesn't come from an avian influenza infected country. France right now is off the list (except for an area of France), but we treat it as all fine from France until we hear dif from our supervisors. WE did seize some deer fois gras in a 3 pack not too long ago cause it is a ruminant.

pork is pretty much no. Sausage is cooked in a way that doesn't kill the pathogen we are concerned about so it isn't allowed from virtually anywhere. The "fatback" is the same story. The more expensive meats you mentioned are seized as well. Beef from Italy, I would have to check a matrix cause we don't get that often...more pork from Italy we see. So, I would call the CBP port that you are flying into and ask to speak to an agriculture specialist to get the information that is port specific.

If you don't declare food and we find a box of cookies or something, it is okay. Now, if you say I have no food and then we scan a bag and all we see is organics. We will look at every item in that bag. I cant count the number of times we interview someone, they say no food, we scan it, 2 bags FULL of food. After looking at it, they are like, I know what I can bring in. Every now again, we'll find a prohibited item or two and the passenger looks foolish and will get a $300 penalty for failure to declare.

Really though, if you say no when you have food, and we find boatloads in a bag, it makes us wonder what else this person is bringing into the country and isn't telling us.

We may screen primarily for food, but we also do our fair share of finding drugs, weapons, documents, child and animal porn, commerical goods, knock off merchandise, jeeze, a whole laundry list of items.

Fresh Artichoke? Again, I'd have to look at it cause we don't get that often. I know we get white asparagus from Germany a lot and that is fine. So I can't say blanket NO on that item. Like I said, get a list together and call the port you will be flying into. Every now and again, we get phone calls and are happy to answer them. You shouldn't be fearful of calling the people who are paid from your taxes!

Dec 25, 2006
TheMan in Not About Food