SWEETGRASS, Mont.— U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations, Area Port of Sweetgrass wants importers and the traveling public to know that raw pet food is not allowed into the United States, unless accompanied by an import permit issued by U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services. Recently, CBP Agriculture Specialists at northern land border ports of entry have seen an increase in the number of travelers arriving with frozen, raw pet food to be fed to their dogs.
Raw pet foods raise the risk of introducing animal diseases, which have the potential to cause widespread illness and death to livestock. Diseases such as African swine fever, avian influenza, foot-and-mouth disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy would result in tremendous economic losses to livestock producers, if they are introduced into the United States.
Raw pet foods have not undergone cooking or heat treatment, which kills many viruses and diseases, and makes food such as dry dog food shelf-stable. Shelf-stable pet food means the pet food does not require refrigeration in order to be safely stored. Pet foods that have not been cooked must be kept frozen or refrigerated to prevent growth of harmful bacteria that spoil the products.
Due to the increased risk of animal diseases, USDA Veterinary Services regulates raw pet food as a commercial product and requires importers to apply for, and receive, an import permit before entering the United States with these products. Persons who plan to bring raw pet food into the United States may contact the USDA National Center for Import and Export at 301-851-3300, option 1, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance regarding the steps to follow to apply for an import permit or ask questions. Additional information may be found on the USDA APHIS website, www.aphis.usda.gov, Imports and Exports.