How to avoid having food seized at customs?

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How to avoid having food seized at customs?

What can or cannot be brought back to the country? Answering this question is not so simple: the rules and exceptions are many and complex, and can vary over time. The grocery store helps you see things more clearly.

The rules on what food can or cannot be returned to the countries are complex.

Each year, more than 40,000 foods are seized in Canada. “It may seem benign to bring back fruit or leftover lunch that you had in France or elsewhere. But the consequences can be disastrous quickly,” warns Maxime Sauriol, dog handler at the Canada Border Services Agency.

Food, whether imported by sea, land, air or rail, must be verified. The monitoring of food products is essential to protect ecosystems from diseases, parasites or invasive species that could interfere in the country.

Dogs are not only useful for detecting drugs hidden in luggage. About 30 dogs work across Canada to detect food prohibited from entering the country.

Maxime Sauriol, dog handler at the Agence des Canada Border Services, with Gonzo

Maxime Sauriol's dog, Gonzo, is trained to detect the smells of foods that pose a higher risk: pork, chicken, beef, apples, plums, bulbs and soil.

< p class="e-p">The 10 most seized foods in the country

  1. Pork
  2. Beef
  3. Poultry< /li>
  4. Vegetables
  5. Other meat products
  6. Milk powder
  7. Butter
  8. Other animal products
  9. Lard fat
  10. Mutton

The rules and exceptions are multiple and complex, and they may change over time. Impossible for travelers to get to know them well.

It depends, it comes from where, it goes where. It even depends on whether there is a transit that is made in another province, explains the border services officer.

Even for me and for the officers, it' is a daily job. It's constantly changing, with disease outbreaks, pandemics. It's quite complex.

Generally speaking, commercially processed foods like candies, chips, trail mixes are subject to fewer restrictions.

But when talking about fresh foods in general, there are restrictions that are going to apply, or at the very least monitoring is done. Fresh meats, meats that have not been processed or cooked or that are not sterile… These products are usually subject to more restrictions, says Maxime Sauriol.

Officers will also check vegetables for soil, since soil is a major vector of disease.

For fruit, the rule is a little counterintuitive: if these fruits also grow in Canada, restrictions are associated with it. The reason behind this is that we do not want to bring species or insects that could parasitize the same food in Canada, explains the agent.

“Fresh fruits that don't grow in Canada, like papayas, mangoes, clementines, dates, those are items that would qualify without a problem. »

— Maxime Sauriol, dog handler, Canada Border Services Agency

It is recommended to keep the original food packaging and receipts to facilitate the confirmation of provenance.

Restrictions related to avian flu

Due to the current outbreaks of avian flu, chicken from several states in the United States, whether fresh, cooked, sandwiched or sous vide is prohibited. The same restriction currently applies for eggs from the United States.

Travellers can also consult the Canada Border Services Agency website for more information.

If in doubt, it is best to declare all food brought into the country.

Whether you're coming from the United States or anywhere else in the world, there's one simple rule to follow: declare. We, all we ask of travelers is that they make a declaration that is accurate, truthful and complete, says Maxime Sauriol.

Failure to declare food products upon your return to Canada may result in forfeiture of the food, a warning or a penalty of up to $1300 with or without legal action.

We are aware that travelers are not aware of all health requirements. That is the job of the border agent who will do the verification afterwards, concludes the agent.

The report “Food confiscated at customs » by Barbara Ann Gauthier and Caroline Gagnon is broadcast this Wednesday on the show L'épicerie, 7:30 p.m. on ICI Télé.

With information from Barbara Ann Gauthier

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