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Shopping sources and Customs regulations


raisab
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Last Oct, security let me bring a bag of Bon Marche chorizettes (like little pepperoni sticks) through. It's possible things might have changed in four months or the person may have just encountered a particularly grumpy security agent.

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As we are about to travel to France for the first time since the liquids ban these kinds of stories make me nuts. I hear things like mustards were confistcated as a liquid but only the top jar of mustard. The jars lower in the carryon were allowed. Why can't there be a standard that all inspectors are held to?

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I've taken a fair number of flights over the last few months and everytime it's something different. I've had various food items confiscated, some liquids allowed, some not. I had to open a new and sealed can of bristol gravy grains someone asked me to bring back from the UK and eat them in front of the security agent (not tasty). But, I seem to have had more scrutiny in airports other than CDG. I really think they only thing you can do if you really want to know is go online and read the information on the airline & airports websites. Yeah, I know it's a drag that there not a more universal standard, AGM Cape Cod, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be.

52 martinis blog

@52martinis

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Maybe it would help to have a printout of the rules for the particular airport when going through security. This *might* help resolve small idiosyncrasies encountered with a given official although it probably is not prudent to argue.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Ludja, that is a good idea. My brother's girl friend was incensed because she had a case of peaches confiscated because the agent said they were citrus fruit. Having the regulations didn't help in that case. Because she lived so close to the border she went back the next day with proof in hand. The agents accepted her proof but the peaches were long gone.

Abigail

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The standard rule for flights from France is that you can take solid food in your carry-on. For liquids (which I think is fairly broadly interpreted to include gel-type substances), you can carry containers not exceeding 100ml in a 1-litre capacity clear, resealable plastic bag which you must show separately from your hand luggage when you go through security. (Sadly this excludes most of what I would like to carry, eg wine!)

I fly regularly from Dinard airport, which certainly operates these procedures. I can't speak for CDG, but they're standard European rules so they shouldn't differ, in theory.

Caroline

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I assume the border in question is the US-Canadian.

As for fruit, my experience is that fresh fruit and vegetables are always treated as contraband, coming into the US, so I never try. (John's clementines just slipped through. Had he showed them to customs in Dulles, they would have been confiscated. On the other hand if he brought them on board and ate them before entering the US, no problem. Customs officials have yet to perform colonoscopies, though given the current paranoia, that day may not yet be nigh)

As for printing the regulations, FORGET IT. For instance, the US import regulations are incredibly complicated and furthermore are subject to regular updates that few can follow. I actually once downloaded them and gave up trying to figure them out. They run to hundreds of pages.

For instance, technically raw milk cheese younger than 60 days is forbidden entry to the US, but that is rarely if ever enforced. On the other hand mad cow disease has effectively blocked the import of beef, lamb, goat, game and other ruminants, but pig is kosher (as it were). All it takes is some high profile health scare to get them to enforce the letter of some regulation or another.

All of that said, I still don't buy the contraband Laduree macaron story. Someone is fibbing. Or perhaps some petit fonctionnaire in Paris was having a bad hair day. The regulations do NOT vary from airport to airport, but they can vary from enforcer to enforcer. In such a situation, the only recourse might be to the inspector's superior. Good luck!

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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John's clementines just slipped through.  Had he showed them to customs in Dulles, they would have been confiscated.  On the other hand if he brought them on board and ate them before entering the US, no problem.

Of course I ate them en route; that's why I said "towards Dulles."

And let's avoid repeating the cheese discussion we've already had, eh?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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We should note that we are discussing several different issues here (comparing apples to oranges, as they say): what one can take aboard a plane departing from de Gaulle according to transportation safety regulations, and what one can bring into the US, vis a vis the Department of Agriculture.

I, personally, pack in my checked luggage anything I am not planning to eat on the plane from CDG to the US. I eat on board anything that US Agriculture prohibits entry, eg fruits, vegetables, meats.

TSA requres that any small (I think 3 oz max, but I may be wrong) vials/tubes of liquid or gel fit into a one-quart zip-loc plastic bag, and allow each passenger one such one quart bag.

That said, on our last several trips, agents at CDG have not questioned lipbalm or eyedrops carried outside that 1 quart bag. However, I wouldn't count on their not considering a tangerine to be either a liquid or in excess of this allowance. As suggested above, outside their very strict rules, it's a crap shoot.

eGullet member #80.

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We should note that we are discussing several different issues here (comparing apples to oranges, as they say): what one can take aboard a plane departing from de Gaulle according to transportation safety regulations, and what one can bring into the US, vis a vis the Department of Agriculture. 

Agreed. The APHIS regulations are a whole other ball of wax.

I think the thrust of this thread is about bringing lunch or dinner to be consumed in flight, as I have often done. Can't imagine any regulations against that. "Sandwichs" are wonderful, and I have never had a problem (either direction), and they are worlds better than coach food.

Getting past those beagles at US Customs was discussed in depth on another thread recently.

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Unfortunately the problem began with a claim that Laduree macarons were being confiscated in CDG. That may be false, but the source believed this first hand report. No one has done anything to enhance the credibility of that initial report, fortunately. However other issues have been raised along the way. They are not directly relevant and have had their previous days in court.

Unless and until there is another report of CDG solid food confiscation, I think we can now all sleep more easily,

Good night. And I hope you enjoy that raw milk cheese and ruminant charcuterie of your way to the States.

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TSA requres that any small (I think 3 oz max, but I may be wrong) vials/tubes of liquid or gel fit into a one-quart zip-loc plastic bag, and allow each passenger one such one quart bag. 

Those are the rules I referred to, translated from metric - 100ml actually gives you a huge 3.4 oz!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I spoke to a US Department of Agriculture inspector on the Canadian US border earlier today. She told me the following:

"the only animal products from France allowed into the US through passenger baggage are cooked processed poultry or egg products (such as pate or soup mix) that are NOT from VS-defined areas of avian influenza. I was unable to get a hold of our Port Vet during working hours today to get the specific regions of France classified as VS-defined areas."

She or I will be contacting the veterinary expert for that within the next day or so. In the meanwhile, she said, one can find information at the World Health Organization website www.who.int/en/

"What it means though, is that any products you bring back will have to have labels with proof of origin specific to regions and not just "Product of France."

I did check the website and it had nothing on Metropolitan France, though it did have information on French territories in the Indian Ocean.

In other words one can bring French canned foie gras or confit de canard into the US as long as it does not come from an infected region.

On the other hand in addition to the anti-ruminant restrictions (beef, lamb, venison, goat etc.) they are also enforcing anti-swine regulations against French products.

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  • 2 months later...

I am hesitant to post this for fear of starting the Customs' Food War up again, but today's NYT has an article written by Steve Jenkins, outspoken genius of the Fairway Cheese department and author of the "Cheese Primer," that states that "My information is that raw milk cheeses and cured meats are perfectly O.K. to bring home for personal consumption. But it seems that many customs agents are misinformed and have chosen to interpret the law in their own fashion." He goes on, however, to state that he declares "everything" and only occasionally has problems, citing the seizure of some Spanish "fried pork rinds."

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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