Bringing home the bacon? Irish bacon (rashers), that is.
August 23, 2007 8:21 AM   Subscribe

CustomsFilter - Bringing home the bacon? Irish bacon (rashers), that is.

My sister and her Irish husband are returning from Ye Olde Sod on Monday after a 2-week holiday and they want to bring back some Irish bacon, sausages and a ton of his favorite chocolate. I don't think they'll run into any problems with bringing back the chocolate, but I suspect that with Mad Cow Disease worries, they may not be allowed to bring back the packaged vacuum sealed bacon and sausages.

The Irish swear they sneak packages of the stuff into America all the time. We hear stories from the USA that the dogs at customs almost always catch a sniff and it gets confiscated.

Anyone care to share their RECENT personal experiences and thoughts on their chances of getting that stuff through?
posted by HeyAllie to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (20 answers total)
FYI - they will be arriving into Newark - EWR.
posted by HeyAllie at 8:26 AM on August 23, 2007

My mum brings bacon from the UK every time she visits. No problem at all. MMMMMMmmmmmmm bacon.
posted by zeoslap at 8:29 AM on August 23, 2007

She was last here in March with about six packs of the stuff.
posted by zeoslap at 8:31 AM on August 23, 2007

It may go through, but you're putting an entire population at risk. In Canada, many years ago, someone brought some sausages back from their home country. The, uh, waste went through the sewer system and spread hoof and mouth disease to a huge population of animals and foot and mouth disease to many people. It cost the meat industry the equivalent of $30 billion and a huge number of animals had to be put down. Many families lost their herds and their businesses.
posted by acoutu at 8:52 AM on August 23, 2007

Ireland is not part of the British Isles (except NI). It's not under F&M restrictions as far as I know.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:20 AM on August 23, 2007

ACOUTU - I can see that happening if it was home-made sausage brought through, but we're talking about packaged bacon sold in the local shops. If it's good enough for the Irish to eat, wouldn't it be okay for us?
posted by HeyAllie at 9:24 AM on August 23, 2007

My husband tried bringing back Goan sausage last year and had it confiscated at customs (this was at JFK). He nearly cried when he told me about it.
I think it's a luck of the draw thing
posted by darsh at 9:35 AM on August 23, 2007

Even cured meats will be confiscated mercilessly by U.S. customs if they are aware of them. Chorizo sausages in my recent experience.

It doesn't matter to customs whether it's good enough for anyone to eat, sadly. Even though you might find the same product on the shelves of your local imported food shop!

Ireland _is_ part of the British Isles, as that's a geographical description (although there are some who dispute the name "British Isles", but that's another matter). Ireland is not part of the political entity known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Both the UK and Ireland are part of the European Union and are almost certainly treated the same in U.S. law on this issue.
posted by galaksit at 9:55 AM on August 23, 2007

my best friend brings pounds of meat and cheese and liquor in his luggage from italy at least once a year, just go for it.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 10:16 AM on August 23, 2007

Just do it and act surprised when they tell you it's not ok.

"What?!? I had no idea that 5 kilos of uncut China White was prohibited."
posted by electroboy at 10:20 AM on August 23, 2007

It's not terribly hard to find Irish bacon rashers in American supermarkets these days, so they might try to improve their chances by leaving the bacon and just smuggling the sausages.
posted by briank at 10:24 AM on August 23, 2007

If it's vac packed there isn't any chance a dog will find it, just go for it, my Mum has been through at least six or seven times with no problems at all.
posted by zeoslap at 10:49 AM on August 23, 2007

From the Customs and Border Patrol page on meat importation:
The regulations governing meat and meat products are very strict. You may not import fresh, dried, or canned meats or meat products from most foreign countries into the United States. Also, you may not import food products that have been prepared with meat.

The regulations on importing meat and meat products change frequently because they are based on disease outbreaks in different areas of the world. APHIS, which regulates meats and meat products as well as fruits and vegetables, invites you to contact them for more information on importing meats. You may write to USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services National Center for Import/Export (NCIE), 4700 River Road, Unit 40, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; or call (301) 734-7830.
I'd call the number and ask, then.
posted by mdonley at 11:05 AM on August 23, 2007

I've done it. I had a block of smelly Gubbeen cheese, too. No problems.
posted by vorfeed at 11:19 AM on August 23, 2007

I brought some nduja salami into DFW. In a nicely sealed jar. I declared it. It was confiscated and the customs officer was a real dick about it:

Him: "You can get fined for bringing in meat products you know."
Me: "What, even if I declare it?"
Him: "Well... no, not in that case. But I find it very strange that you didn't know you couldn't bring meat in."
Me: "I've never tried before so I thought I'd find out."
Him: "So you say. But it's very odd. Very odd"

Repeat variations thereof for 20 minutes. Followed by lots of tapping on his computer and making me follow him to the incineration skip so I could watch him throw it away.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:50 PM on August 23, 2007

I would also note that the wording of section 11a ofthe Customs Declaration Form that you have to sign seems to have been changed to include the generic term "food" -- if memory serves me it used to ask about fruit, veg. and meat, but not just "food".

On getting back to Chicago last week I was good and checked the box and was duly asked about my cookies, chocolate and pickles and wasn't given a hard time about it. But to bring meat in you will have to lie in a signed statement -- I make no speculation as to the chances of getting caught, but if you are you won't be able to claim ignorance (unless you want to try to claim that Irish bacon isn't food).
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 1:46 PM on August 23, 2007

They better be Superquinn sausages...
posted by banter at 1:49 PM on August 23, 2007

I can see that happening if it was home-made sausage brought through, but we're talking about packaged bacon sold in the local shops. If it's good enough for the Irish to eat, wouldn't it be okay for us?

There's currently a ban on UK meats because of the terrible foot and mouth (hoof and mouth) disease outbreak there. News reports say that, although Ireland is currently without an outbreak, there is a huge risk of the disease spreading to Ireland. All it takes is someone or a vehicle that has visited a farm. In 2001, hoof and mouth disease spread all across Europe, including Ireland. Millions of animals -- including wild animals -- had to be slaughtered.

The food is probably okay to eat, since human stomach acid generally (but not always) prevents humans from contracting it. However, it goes through your digestive system and into the sewer system. You might also vomit the disease somewhere that could cause problems. Animals could pick up the disease and end up with uncurable ulcerations.

That being said, if you do get caught with meat at the border, you may be in for a world of hurt. You might face fines or what-have-you. But, worse yet, you may be flagged as someone who lied or at least imported illegal goods. Then you'll be harassed every time you go through customs.
posted by acoutu at 3:43 PM on August 23, 2007

There's currently a ban on UK meats because of the terrible foot and mouth (hoof and mouth) disease outbreak there.

The outbreak's been contained. The EU ban will be lifted on Saturday. And Northern Ireland was never included.
posted by TrashyRambo at 3:50 PM on August 23, 2007


They passed through the EWR airport with a suitcase full of Irish rashers (vacuum packed) and sausages with no problems whatsoever! Thanks to everyone for their responses. They checked out your answers from Ireland and decided to go for it and they said they waltzed right through.
posted by HeyAllie at 1:16 PM on August 27, 2007

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