Here’s What Happens to Illegal Food Confiscated by U.S. Customs

A typical scene at any US airport would show passengers unloading stuff they shouldn’t be bringing to and from the U.S. At JFK International Airport in New York, for instance, agricultural food products in particular automatically warrant a stop and search.

Personnel from both the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be your welcoming party and will ask you to discard your water bottles and remove your shoes. Customs will then be on the lookout for drugs, explosives, and agricultural products.

To protect local agriculture from any invasive species of pests/insects, fruits (which contain seeds) vegetables, rice, cured meat, etc.are confiscated by Customs officers. These items are then placed into contraband bins and disposed of appropriately.

Not by having a picnic. A huge grinder turns all food products to shreds to ensure that any harmful pests/insects are eliminated. Watch this informative video from Great Big Story to see how this is carried out.

In the video, Customs officer Elle Scaffa narrates how she gets threatened by passengers over confiscated fruits. “The reason why we’re confiscating all this stuff is not because they are harmful to human beings, they are harmful for our plants and animals.”

According to Scaffa, their group confiscates about 400-600 pounds of agricultural food products a day.

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