Smuggling Salami? Don't do it!

Joined Aug 11, 2000
LOL......I know Israeli Ben and Salumi Mark, they sell at the farmers markets I shop at.....actually some of their lardo and fresh (frozen) sausage is in my fridge, well and the incredible mustardo and white bean goo......finished off the black pepper lavosh that gets a pretty penny. Premium products!

Dang, my St louis-Paris hopping friend who brings back incredible cheeses, pates and dried shrooms may now have issues bringing anything back. Big Bummer.

The 400 pound sow pix on cheftalk with the fat layer as deep as my index finger would have shown anyone interested in making lardo that bigger tamworths provide massive quantities of back fat.


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
Good read Kuan but! I totally disagree with the idea of smuggling seeds in. So many invasive species have been brought into our country this way. It is a terrible idea to smuggle seeds, live plants, or live animals.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
In theory you're correct, Nicko. But, in the case of seeds specifically, there's more involved.

Won't bore you with the politics of big agriculture vs private seed collecting. But the fact is, there is no documented case of any pathogens coming in on small packets of seeds being traded by collectors. And most invasive species have resulted from legal imports by seed and plant houses.

There is an ambiguous part of the law that USDA, through its AFIS branch, started enforcing a few years ago because of pressure from big agriculture. The end goal is to have a system like Europe's, where only seeds on the white list can legally be sold or transferred.

I give you one guess who's behind the anti-heirlooms pressure.

The whole thing is somewhat of a joke, too, because there aren't enough inspectors to handle trade goods, let alone private transferences. Shortly after USDA announced that it would now be "enforcing" the law I ran a test. I had folks in ten countries send me seeds, with "contents: garden seeds" clearly marked on the envelopes. Included were some red-flag countries, such as Columbia.

Not one of those shipments was even opened, let alone confiscated. And, of course, none of them had phytosanitary certificates. Other times there have been confiscations; oddly enough, with many of them taking place in the Chicago region, rather than regular gateways like New York and Baltimore. Go figure.

But, at base, what we have is another case of government gone wild, forcing otherwise honest citizens to become lawbreakers---in this case, via international smuggling.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Great read indeed.

Laws are made to be some respects. I think customs officers may like salami?

KYH- that's a totally ridiculous state of affairs. Your test is a perfect example, especially of the red coded areas.

When I lived in Tasmania we were not allowed by Customs to have rollmops - plain old boring little pickled herrings. On my few jaunts to the big island, I took my share of 'mops back with me. The only customs test into the little island were beagle dogs, trained to sniff for fruit. Not drugs. Nor anything else. What a joke. And if you took your car by ferry, all they wanted to check for was gas cylinders under the hood and in the trunk (these had to be stored in a special container on the ferry). We were moving house, so had the car crammed with all sorts of junk. I could have had anything in there.

With the salamis and the invasive scanners - guys, just hang them in the right place and they will impress someone :D

I just don't see the point in some of these laws at all. Say someone had enjoyed a big meal of non-allowable food before hiking it back on the plane. Then, they've consumed too much, or there's a lot of turbulence or simply they don't take flying well, so, well, it comes up. Does that infringe the importation laws too and run a health hazard at the other end of the trip? (Sorry to be graphic here but it seems to be a point). Laws have gone mad.

Rant over ....


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I really don't get the cured meat rule. It's cured, it's good. If it isn't cured right, it'll just smell really bad.

As if the melamine in infant formula was any safer. :rolleyes:

Or the lead in children's toys.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Yeah I know.....totaly out of control. And basa fish (I don't know if its a widely know species) farmed in polluted rivers in pens under people's houses where their, umm, waste water comes down. It's about the only budget affordable fish here, but I'll do without, thanks.

But it's allowed to come in by Custom's rules. Yep.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
DC, a lot of your import rules are kind of strange, in terms not only of what is or is not allowed, but the paperwork accompanying it.

With seeds, for instance, there is a long list of plant varieties that are not allowed. That is, to use a ridiculous example, the rules might not specify "tomatoes," but forbid, "Uncle Joe's Yellow Tomato."

If I were to send you garden seeds, therefore, I have to list both the common and botanical name, plus a lot of other info. Failure to do so mean automatic confiscation.

But, on the flip side, if I know what's on the list, I can easily fudge it, because the inspectors don't go by the contents but by what's on the declaration.

Ahhhh, the ways of pretty girls, butterflies, and governments are inscrutible.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
And basa fish (I don't know if its a widely know species

Putting aside how it's raised, basa is a very strange fish. I've never before seen fish that had so much fat. I don't mean as an oily fish, but flaky fat that you could actually scrape off like suet.

Weird, to say the least.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Another example of how weird the regs can be.

In Great Britain it is illegal to sell seeds unless they're included on the White List. Essentially, that means hybrids from the big seed companies who can afford the process of being accepted on the list.

Heirlooms (what the Brits call "heritage") seeds, because they're not on the list, can only be sold by special permit. Those permits are issued, by and large, to research institutions.

In practical terms, the only folks who can sell them are HDRA (Henry Doubleday Research Assn.) and the British Museum.

The operative word there is "sell."

I just sent Bughut a selection of heirlooms. Because the customs declaration specifies that they are a gift, with no money value, there will be no problems with delivery. At least, based on past experience, there shouldn't be.

However, if I had sold her those seeds, they would be confiscated at the gateway port.

Now let's bring this home. SSE (Seed Savers Exchange), the largest seed preservation group in the world, promulgates heirloom seed several ways. By far the biggest method is via it's annual Yearbook, in which members list the seed they have available. If you want a particular seed, you send a set fee established by SSE, and the member sends you the seed.

Simple enough. And, frankly, the fee is so low it barely covers the costs of growing and shipping the seed. But it's a great method for spreading, and therefore preserving, these varieties.

However, if the U.S. had a White List (which big agriculture is striving for), then such transactions would, technically, be illegal.

So, what we have to ask ourselves re: cured meats, and cheeses, and many similar foodstuffs, is: who's ox is being gored? Are there really health concerns involved? Or are the rules actually a thinly-veiled non-tarriff barrier, protecting the big importers and processors?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Seriously, how much salumi and cheese can these guys bring back? We're not talking about huge amounts but rather personal consumption amounts.....or if you are lucky, personal and good friend amounts. Are we being saved from ourselves? It's not for resale.....
Crazy world.

As to plants....
David Masumoto says....Know varieties.....or as Julie Ridlon has taught, Not Every Tomato is The Same camp.......:peace:
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Speaking of wierd Customs rules, when you come into Australia from OS, the whole cabin is sprayed with an aerasol to fumigate you. Stinks to high heaven. And, if you've been on a farm in your OS trip, you have to surrender your shoes, they get sprayed with same thing, sealed in plastic bag, then you have to walk out barefoot.

Not funny, and no, I'm not joking.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Sorry for my ignorance, what is "OS"?

One day a friend brought me back a dry "saucisson" from France. When I saw him open his suitcase and pull it out, it was like heaven. :peace:
Joined Apr 17, 2006
Can't help thinking if the "I Love Lucy" episode where she tried to smuggle in a huge cheese from France. She wrapped it in a blanket and pretended it was a baby, but then had to try to eat it all before they landed. (For reasons I can't remember.)

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