Customs rules sending food products stateside


By Robert Szostek, Customs Public Affairs

Personnel shipping household goods to the USA 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, pâtés 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 meat 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 USA this way.

Fresh fruits and vegetables may not be sent to the U.S. in household goods 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, you can 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 added.  Commercially produced dried herbs and spices, tea, roasted coffee, cured cheeses, cakes, candies, cookies and roasted nuts are also okay.

To find out more about importing food, plant and animal products into the United States, visit the CBP website at