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May 2, 2011 02:16 PM

bringing back jamon

I've searched this board and found old results. Is it still true that you cannot bring back jamon from Spain? I have found these pages which indicate that it is okay to bring back ham for "personal consumption" although I would find it hard to consume 50 pounds of jamon...

And if it's still illegal, is it less risky to pack some in my check in, or to carry it on my person? I'm landing at LAX, if that matters. Yes I'm aware of the possibility of a $300 fine.

Products for Personal Consumption

Federal inspection regulations permit the entry of small amounts of meat, poultry or egg products for personal consumption 9 CFR, Part 327.16, 381.207, and 590.960. The amount of a personal consumption shipment cannot exceed 50 pounds for meat, poultry, or dried egg products and 30 pounds for liquid or frozen egg products. The products must be for personal use only and cannot be sold or distributed in U.S. commerce.

Such products are exempt from FSIS import regulation, but they are subject to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) animal health requirements. These requirements change frequently, and travelers should contact APHIS for up-to-date information by visiting the website or calling (301) 734-7830.

All travelers entering the United States are required todeclare any products of animal origin (including soup or soup products) they may be carrying. The declaration must cover all items carried in checked baggage, carry-on luggage, or in a vehicle. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the ports of entry will examine the items and determine if they meet the entry requirements of the United States. Additional information on bringing agricultural products into the United States is available from CBP.

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  1. I have seen the beagles and their agents confiscate even small packages of ham and bacon.

    If it's commercially packaged (cryovac or canned) -- it's okay -- but you're more than likely going to be relieved of a dry-cured ham.

    I know that somebody's best friend's cousin's sister got away with it...but the odds are against you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      And I am *so* bummed about that. Flying on Thursday, the 5th for 10 days in Spain/Portugal. Just going to eat jamon as much as possible while I'm there, I guess....;)

      1. re: brentleatherman

        fyi i just got back from spain and was able to get back a few packaged of vacuum sealed ham (~1lb total). I just put in my checked in baggage...didnt get searched by customs or anything so it was pretty simple. i did see the dog sniffing around, but i had nothing in my carry on + I doubt dogs are trained to look for ham....more likely drugs/etc.

        1. re: jaybert

          Nope -- the little beagles in the green vests are trained to look for *food*. They were specifically chosen to work for the FDA because they're cute and non-threatening. They're led through the international baggage claims because they KNOW you're bringing stuff back with you.

          In general, they'll just confiscate it...they don't usually start out by dropping fines, but ymmv. I've had them alert on my belongings a couple of times -- once on chocolates (no big deal, legal and allowed) and once on an apple I grabbed at the hotel when I checked out, stuck in the pocket of my overcoat, and promptly forgot about. No big deal there, either -- drop it in their blue plastic bag -- no harm, no foul.

          The big Labs and German Shepherds back in the luggage areas are looking for drugs -- and they work for various law-enforcement agencies from the local to federal levels. THEY are considerably more badazz -- and their handlers are considerably less tolerant of infractions.

    2. It's not legal. The jamón ibérico produced for the Spanish market is not okay for sale in the US. The jamón ibérico that you can buy in the US is produced specifically for the US market in USDA approved plants and via a process that is much more convoluted (and in no way better final product-wise) than the ordinary process in Spain.

      1. A packet of ham is really very easy to detect. If you sign the entry form declaring that you have no food, and they decide to inspect you, they will find it (whether it's in your checked luggage or in your carry-on, doesn't matter), and I think you'll have a hard time convincing them that you forgot it was there (like an apple in your coat pocket), or that you didn't realize that ham counted as "food". In this situation a fine is very likely, and they can make things unpleasant for you on all your future trips, too. It's not a good gamble, IMO.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DeppityDawg

          the apple also had a supermarket sticker on it -- so it was pretty obvious I wasn't trying to sneak in some heirloom variety that might be carrying diseases. (I also surrendered it without even a question -- it was pretty banged up at that point, anyway!)

          Processed meat products are pretty clearly banned, however.

          1. re: sunshine842

            I regularly bring in processed poultry (e.g. foie gras in cans and jars) and fish/seafood. So far they have always been allowed through, although the rules can change at any moment. In the past I have had declared canned pork products confiscated, but the last time I went through the inspector told me that pork was OK again (at least from Western Europe). But Iberian ham would still be prohibited, I'm pretty sure, because it's not shelf-stable.

            A lot of people come to the conclusion that it's easier not to declare any food and hope to get waved through. It's no big deal, but it's not the right thing to do.

        2. hah, dilemmalyn - i like how that first link you have doesn't even mention Bolivia! So apparently NOTHING from Bolivia is allowed into the U.S. i'm traveling there next month. my sister went 2 mos. ago, and did manage to bring in a few items, but i think she just lucked out.

          my sister went to Barcelona and Madrid a few years ago and just ate a ton of jamon while she was there, because she was too afraid of having it be confiscated - too much money to spend so that the gatekeepers can have their fill! Instead, she brought back conservas - all the tinned goodies that were all the rage then (and probably still are.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: mariacarmen

            I think the import from Bolivia that the authorities are worried about is white and powdery...

          2. Not a good idea, my friend who is a USDA inspector's biggest score was a whole ham worth about USD 1000.00 that was destroyed. The man said it was for his own consumption. No go. (By the way, confiscated goods ARE destroyed, usually by autoclave burning.)