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CBP Noting Post Holiday Increase in Prohibited Food Products

Release Date: 
January 9, 2017

EL PASO, Texas – In the wake of an increase in the number of penalties being assessed to travelers attempting to cross the border with prohibited food products U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Office of Field Operations is reminding travelers to declare all goods acquired abroad.

CBP agriculture specialists assessed $6,850 in civil penalties in 31 incidents Since January 4. Some of the prohibited food and agriculture products seized during recent days include avocados, oranges, tangerines, mandarins, sweet limes, apples, guavas, mamey, cherimoya, sugar cane, ham, pork, pork skins, bologna, fresh eggs and potted plants. CBP agriculture specialists have made 827 plant quarantine material interceptions and 158 meat quarantine material interceptions during the period. Those include undeclared and declared items.

Prohibited products at the El Paso port
Prohibited products at the El Paso port

“This is a common occurrence after the holiday period and one of the reasons we always encourage travelers to visit CBP’s Know Before You Go webpage before they travel,” said CBP El Paso Port Director Beverly Good. “Returning travelers can avoid most of these violations and penalties if they follow the guidance we outline in advance of the holiday travel period.”

Declared agriculture items, in non-commercial quantities, that are found to be prohibited or restricted by the CBP Agriculture Specialists can be abandoned at the port of entry should the traveler wish to continue into the U.S. However, undeclared prohibited agriculture items will be confiscated and can result in the issuance of a civil penalty to the traveler for failure to declare the prohibited item. All agricultural items that are abandoned or confiscated at ports of entry are destroyed in accordance with USDA approved destruction methods to prevent spread of pests and diseases.

Many agriculture products are prohibited entry into the United States from certain countries because they may carry plant pests and foreign animal diseases.  All agriculture items must be declared and are subject to inspection by a CBP Agriculture Specialist at ports of entry to ensure they are free of plant pests and foreign animal diseases. Prohibited or restricted items may include meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, seeds, soil and products made from animal or plant materials.  For generally allowed food items please visit USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Agricultural pests and diseases are a threat to U.S. crop production and to the livestock industry. Some animal diseases can be highly contagious and could cause severe economic damage to livestock and result in losses in production, which could lead to increased costs for meat and dairy products. Plant pests and disease, as well as invasive plant material can cause crop loss and also damage lawns, ornamental plants, and trees.  Plant pest infestations can result in increased costs to consumers due to pest eradication efforts as well as lower crop yields.  High risk plant pest and animal disease outbreaks within the U.S. could also adversely affect the economy as a result of reduced trade of U.S. origin goods to countries around the world.

In addition to the agriculture violations, CBP officers working at area ports this weekend also made nine drug seizures confiscating 592 pounds of marijuana, 15.8 pounds of cocaine and just under one pound of heroin. They also made four NCIC arrests, recovered two stolen vehicles and made one currency seizure.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017