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Travel Tip: What food can I bring back

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Antony Stanley  used under creative commons license

Image by Antony Stanley used under creative commons license

Frequent and infrequent travellers usually are confused about what food products they are legally allowed to bring back. Since many of my readers are American, I will write about USA regulations.

Americans coming back home with food

It is important to ensure you comply with these import control rules as breaking them can be punished with a slap on the wrist of a very severe high cost fine. The US CBP website says >“Failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 >in fines and penalties.”

You should checkout the special US Customs and Border Protection webpage entitled Travellers bringing food into the U.S. for personal use

The (partial) list of acceptable imports : - Condiments such as ketchup (catsup), mustard, mayonnaise, Marmite and Vegemite and prepared sauces that do not contain meat products

  • Olive oil and other vegetable oils

  • Bread, cookies, crackers, cakes, granola bars, cereal and other baked and processed products

  • Candy and chocolate

  • Cheese- Solid cheese (hard or semi-soft, that does not contain meat); butter, butter oil, and cultured milk products such as yogurt and sour cream are not restricted. Feta cheese, Brie, Camembert, cheese in brine, Mozzarella and Buffalo Mozzarella are permissible (USDA Animal Product Manual, Table 3-14-6). Cheese in liquid (such as cottage cheese or ricotta cheese) and cheese that pours like heavy cream are not admissible from countries affected by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Cheese containing meat is not admissible depending on the country of origin.

  • Canned goods and goods in vacuum packed jars (other than those containing meat or poultry products) for your personal use

  • Fish- personal amounts of fish, shrimp, abalone and other seafood are allowed and can be fresh, frozen, dried, smoked, canned or cooked

  • Dried Fruit- things like apricots, barberry, currants, dates, figs, gooseberries, peaches, prunes, raisins, tomatillos, and zereshk (USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Manual, Table 3-69)

  • Liquid milk and milk products intended for use by infants or very young children are admissible if in a reasonable amount or small quantity for several days' use.

Note: Milk and milk products from goats must be accompanied by a USDA import permit if from regions classified as affected with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or Rinderpest.

  • Powder drinks sealed in original containers with ingredients listed in English. However, admissibility is still under the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agricultural Specialist.

  • Juices- commercially canned (USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Manual, Table 3-75)

  • Tea- commercially packaged and ready to be boiled, steeped or microwaved in liquid. Coca, barberry and loose citrus leaves are prohibited (USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Manual, Table 3-148)

  • Coffee- roasted or unroasted if there is no pulp attached. (USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Manual, Table 3-48)

  • Spices- most dried spices are allowed except for orange, lemon, lime and other citrus leaves and seeds, lemongrass, and many vegetables and fruit seeds

  • Honey- comb honey, royal jelly, bee bread, or propolis if it is not intended to be fed to bees (USDA Miscellaneous and Processed Products Manual, Table 3-100)

Canadians coming back home with food

If you are a Canadian travelling back home, you have a similar webpage from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency called What can I bring Into Canada in terms of food, plant, animal and related products?. The webpage is comprehensive and worth taking a look. This webpage is also important for Canadians that want to shop for food in the US and bring it back to Canada for consumption.