Each country has different laws about bringing food across their borders. Some countries forbid certain produce from being brought in because contamination laws have been established that declare it a threat to public health. Although it may seem harmless to bring a bag of candies home for mom, it’s always best to research border regulations on food. It’s important to know the regulations in order to avoid getting fined (or detained) for unlawfully bringing food into a country.
What Food Is Typically Okay
If the food items are snacks that are commercially packaged and remain closed, it is generally fine to bring across borders. Bags of chips, nuts, candy, and similar foods that are not quickly perishable are acceptable. Beef jerky and other meat products are not always allowed. Depending on the country, baked goods and cheeses are permitted. Condiment items such as ketchup, vinegar, oils, and spices are also usually allowed to pass through borders. For those bringing necessary food items such as baby formula or dietary supplements, it is most often acceptable.
What Food Is Typically NOT Okay
Foods such as vegetable and fruit produce are rarely allowed to pass across borders. Each country will have its own regulations on this because a lot of it is dependent on what kinds of foods already grow there. Countries put regulations on produce because they can be contaminated with disease and bacteria that threatens the health of not only the agricultural systems in that country but also the health of its citizens.
What to Do to Be Safe
To prevent getting into trouble with customs and import officers, it is important to stay within the regulations for each country. The last thing anyone wants is to bring a bug-infested apple into a different country and accidentally spread a disease.
Keep in mind that these regulations on food often change. Information found online may not be accurate. In order to get real information about food restrictions, it is best to talk to someone directly either by phone or email. Check updates on current food threats in the country you are visiting in order to determine whether or not it is safe to bring a product across borders. Whatever food that is brought into a country, regardless of whether it is on a prohibited list or not, should be reported to a customs officer.