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Mar 7, 2014 04:42 AM

Not permitted to bring cheese OUT of Switzerland

My husband tried to bring home a hunk of gruyere a couple of years ago and he was made to throw it away at airport security. I'm curious as to why Switzerland wouldn't allow him to leave the country with it. I can imagine why U.S. Customs might not allow it in here but never thought he wouldn't be permitted to leave with it. Any ideas?

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  1. This is completely incomprehensible. Cheese is sold at the stores in the duty-free section of Zurich's airport. We routinely bring cheese with us when we travel. There must have been some misunderstanding.

    1. generally has to be vacuumed wrapped and sealed, not in saran wrap.

      6 Replies
      1. re: tfed

        They said it wasn't sealed properly. I still don't get it though. What do they care if it isn't sealed? He's leaving with it, bound for the U.S. Do you know what the reason for this is?

        1. re: lynnlato

          Isn't that the kind of detail that should have been mentioned in the OP?

          There's a big difference between not being allowed to take cheese OUT of the country, and not being allowed to take cheese on an airplane. One has to do with commerce and import/export regulations, the other with airplane (and passenger) safety and/or convenience (imagine opening a package of limburger cheese on the plane).

          1. re: paulj

            Perhaps it should have been mentioned but I am not familiar with import/export regs so that is what prompted the post in the first place. My apologies.

            I simply don't understand why a hunk of gruyere wouldn't be allowed on a carry on leaving Switzerland and that is why I made the post. It seems that it may have been because it wasn't vacuum-sealed or, as Delucacheesemonger suggested, maybe it was simply an error. A costly one though. :(

            1. re: lynnlato

              lynnlato, This whole discussion has prompted me to look into the matter. I queried Switzerland's Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA, or in German:BAZL) and they replied that cream cheeses, soft cheeses, and instant fondue mixes--with the exception of instant fondue mixes made with hard cheeses--may not be taken on board. So far, so good. They also sent me a document with more particulars. The document is titled 'Limitations on the Transport of Liquids in Hand Luggage', No more than 100 ml of any of the liquids listed therein may be brought aboard an airliner. One of the liquids mentioned in the document is 'hard cheese.' Other prohibited liquids are peanut butter, KY jelly, and gel-filled bras.

              1. re: bcc

                Ha! Wow, how interesting! Thank you so much for investigating this. It had me so perplexed. Of course now I'm confused as to how a hard cheese is a liquid but... that'll have to remain a mystery. ;)

                Thanks again!

        2. re: tfed

          Interesting, l bring back 10-15 kilos from France 2-3 times a year and have never encountered this restriction.
          l have some product vacuum sealed but for convenience not as a requirement.

        3. The prohibition is probably not specifically because it was cheese.


          1. From IATA Travel Centre:

            "Export regulations::
            Free export without restrictions, except that cheese in excess of 15 kgs., gold and number of watches have to be declared.'

            Of course, I have no idea about Swiss airport security but I do know that our TSA has a lot of latitude about what they do and don't allow. Was it in his carryon or checked bag? That could also matter. And, as mentioned, how it was wrapped is probably it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: c oliver

              Hey c oliver, it was in his carry on. I had previously read the export reg you posted. It isn't applicable to the little hunk of cheese he had for me. I do think it must have been the wrapping but I still don't know why they would take issue with it leaving the country. Wacky.

              1. re: lynnlato

                Not for leaving the country, but for TSA requirements.
                If mushy can be emulsive looking so no go, if in checkin no issues.
                OTOH gruyere is anything but mushy, maybe the Swiss TSA guy was incorrect.

            2. Did your husband ask the Swiss authorities why?

              1 Reply