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Aug 30, 2006 03:55 PM

What foods can be brought into the US after traveling abroad? [moved from Spain/Portugal board]

Do you know where I can find a copy of an updated "no fly list"?

I know that meat is prohibited but what about packaged cheeses or can goods? I've heard that canned olives, for example, are fine and I've brought back liters of oil in plain sight several years ago and had no problems. But I always wonder if there are items that are officially prohibited, like oil, olives and canned goods, but are general allowed in small quantities and if there are items like meat that is never allowed.

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  1. Here is a link to US Customs for prohibited and restricted items. I have found that it is good to carry a copy of the list because sometimes customs will try to confiscate items that are legal. Which they have the right to do even if the item is legal, but it helps.

    Here is a link to USDA-APHIS Travelers Tips for what you can import. At the bottom of the page are lists of approved items.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for.

      1. re: mielimato

        Just be prepared that the customs people are not really up to date on everything. They may allow some banned stuff and confiscate some allowable. Frustrating as check in anymore.

    2. Try the State Dept.'s website. If you can't find the answer in any of their listed categories, you can e-mail them with your question.

      1. I have not traveled since the latest security crack down but in the past, I've brought back butter, cheese, crackers, cookies, mayonnaise, chocolate, pastries, booze, jelly, paprika, pasta and probably other things too numerous too mention. The only thing that was ever confiscated was a braunschweiger sausage from a German grocery store. Yes, I know it is illegal but gosh darn it, I wanted that sausage for dinner and I was hoping they might be asleep at customs that day. They weren't...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Velma

          I just spoke with a friend who returned last week from Paris and she was stopped from bringing packaged store bought cookies on the airplane.

          The security person seriously claimed the cookie filling was a banned "liquid".

        2. Ok, so when I fly down to Mexico, I had some some American beef jerky with me as a snack. I had purchased 2 packs of a national brand jerky at the local Giant grocery store in VA.

          When I flew out of Mexico, I still had an unopened pack, but customs would not let me bring it into the country, even though I actually bought it in the states.

          Did they screw up or was I legally not allowed to bring my jerky back in?

          2 Replies
          1. re: rcheng

            How would they know where you bought it?

            1. re: PeterL

              They wouldn't know where I had bought it, however the packaging did say that it was packaged in Texas.

          2. Meat is the thing they always catch me with and confiscate. Lately, they've
            even added a special meat warning to the declaration form you fill out on
            the plane, something about how failing to declare your meat will land you
            in even more trouble than you will be in if you do declare it. Or something.

            I've been caught by the dastardly little beagles they occasionally walk past
            disembarking passengers. If you've got meat and you see a beagle, you're

            Last month I completely forgot about the meat thing and a friend in Paris
            had just returned from Spain and loaded me up with some awesome chorizo
            and ham. An hour before landing, I remembered what was about to happen
            so me and my neighboring seats had a little ham fest. Delicious, but not
            really the best setting.

            On the other hand, I've heard stories of friend-of-a-friends who've sashayed
            through customs with 30 pounds of spanish ham in their backpacks.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              I regularly come back from South Africa with biltong in my checked luggage - not a lot, usually 2-3 lbs. So far I haven't been caught but I get very nervous every time I go through customs.

              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                I truly did forget that I had canned Haggis in my checked luggage. It had been purchased early in the trip and stashed. I just never gave it another thought and besides it was canned. It wan't caught and confiscated but the friend I bought it for went the next year and bought hers in the duty free shop, also canned but she declared it and they took it away.