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Dec 8, 2006 08:13 PM

Getting cured meats from Italy to US

I recently took a trip to Italy and tried to bring back some cured meat (vaccuum packed) in my carry-on luggage which was confiscated by Homeland Security... and I'm sure if I packed it in my checked luggage it would have been discovered upon screening. Any ideas?

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  1. First of all, I don't think it was Homeland Security that took your salumi. Was it taken at the departure airport or upon arrival? Did you declare it? How was it wrapped, other than the vacuum packaging? (In foil, in zip loc bags??) What was the airport in question? Some are much more strict than others upon arrival...

    It is illegal, I believe, to bring any of this in but many people do manage...

    6 Replies
    1. re: erica

      It was homeland security and it was upon arrival at jfk

      1. re: mangiabeve

        JFK has a crack team. If you didn't get your checked bags, they get inspected 100%. bye bye sausage...or ham...or meat.

        1. re: TheMan

          To the MAN...
          I'm in italy and picking my family's olive trees this weekend. I'd like to bring home a stainless steel canister with 20+ litres of olive oil. SWISS airlines has no problem with it. Cost less than $200. Based on your prior posts I can only assume I will have not problem with the oil canister packed in my large suitcase but i'd hate to lose it at the port of entry so I'd love a verification... [i leave my country work shoes in my house there so I assume that will speed up my customs processing as well but let me know if there is anything else I should plan on.]
          Thanks MAN. Weegi.

          1. re: weegi

            The post you are replying to is almost three years old. The best thing to do is to check directly with customs.

      2. re: erica

        Customs is now part of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

        1. re: The Engineer

          Ouch..sorry I did not realize Customs was part of Homeland Security now....

      3. It's illegal to bring in cured meats into the US. The excuse is mad cow disease. The homeland security beagles keep their noses open for these smelly treats. I had the same thing happen to me bringing cured ham and sausages back from Spain (waaaah!) They did leave me the cheese though.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Ellen

          No, the reason is that any meat product imported into the US has to be packed at a facility that is inspected by the USDA. A real pain in the ass which is, for example, why the best Spanish jamon hasn't been available. But there are some manufacturers that have recently been certified.

          Since the OP got caught, you can bet that they'll get searched every time they enter through customs from now on.

          1. re:

            Maybe not. I was busted trying to sneak a German sausage through and although they just took it away from me, I was not searched at all the next time I went through. It might not haunt the OP forever.

            1. re: Velma

              That's surprising because your file gets flagged. Check out Gary Soup's experience:


              1. re:

                I just pulled the stupid female act on them and they went easy on me although I don't believe for a second that they really believed I had forgotten that I had it in my suitcase. They didn't fine me and clearly did not put a flag in my record (lucky for me). I won't ever do it again because the humiliation is not worth it.

        2. No way really around it, unless you want to chance getting caught and getting the food confiscated (as you did). I was very sored tempted to just try that while stranded at the Madrid airport.

          My dad tried to get some meat jerky back from Hong Kong, and the sniffing dogs detected the scent even when the food was sealed in a canister.

          6 Replies
          1. re: notmartha

            Where are all these sniffing dogs? I've never seen one at LAX when returning from abroad, but maybe it depends what time of day you are coming in and from what country.

            1. re: omotosando

              My parents live in NYC, so it was probably JFK, and it was about 2 years ago. The purpose of the dogs are to sniff bombs and drugs, not meat jerky, but I suspect they liked the smell.

              I was going to ask them to bring back some jerky from HK when they went again this September.

              1. re: notmartha

                We've been sniffed by the dreaded beagles in Philly, DC and NY.

                1. re: butterfly

                  Good gravy. That will make the probability of a successful smuggle very low. You may be able to fool custom agents, but not the nose of those dogs.

                  Plus having the dogs getting excited over your stuff in this terrorist awareness age isn't very much fun, I would think.

                  1. re: butterfly

                    There are food sniffing dogs at the Toronto airport as well.

                2. re: omotosando

                  The beagle is at LAX every time I return from overseas!

              2. my aunt used to bring back the straight from the field ,small ancient stone pressed olive oil every year, no more.

                1. I never took a chance even when I traveled on a diplomatic passport - that beagle doesn't know the difference when he sniffs something forbidden.
                  Whenever I have to go through Customs, I make sure all the food products are in a separate bag, I tell them right off the bat that I have to go through the Ag line, I declare everything.
                  I also print out the list of what I can bring through a particular port of entry. If the Customs agent questions something, I have the regulation in writing. It is possible to bring in fish, for instance, through some airports and not all agents know that.
                  When you are polite and cooperative, they are very easy to get along with. I've gotten away with paying absolutely no duty on some of my stuff.