Prohibited Food and Beverages Items to Certain Countries
Restricted food and beverages to certain countries
Airline food might not suit your taste buds or budget, you might want a tasty souvenir of your holiday or you might be an ex-pat looking to enjoy a home delicacy that you can't get in your adopted country. These are just some of the reasons you might be tempted to travel with food or drink.
But, did you know, that there are prohibited food and beverages to certain countries? If you aren't aware of these, you may have your food confiscated or you might even end up with a hefty fine. Different countries have different rules and it's up to you as a passenger to check these out before travelling. Follow our tips to avoid some of the most common food mistakes.
Learn more about restricted food and beverage items when travelling
To stop pests and diseases from entering the UK, there are some rules about which food products you can pack in your checked-in or hand luggage. When travelling from within the EU, you can bring in meat, dairy and other animal products if they are for your own consumption. However, post-Brexit, these rules have changed and certain plant products require certification. If you're travelling into the UK from non-EU countries (including Cyprus and Gibraltar) then the rules are tougher. Don't risk travelling with fresh meat, meat products, milk and other dairy products while all plant products need to have a phytosanitary certificate. Plant products include live decorations such as Christmas sprays and wreaths. You can, however, bring in a small portion of live mussels and oysters, prepared snail meat and frogs' legs! Check the official guidelines on restricted food items before travel.
The United States
In the States, it is the TSA (Transport Security Administration) that lays down the guidelines of what is allowed and what is prohibited. Generally, when food and drink are for your own onboard consumption, the rules are fairly relaxed. However, if you're flying to the States and planning to bring a gift for your host don't be tempted to travel with soft French cheeses. Bleu de Gex, Brie de Meaux and Roquefort are made from unpasteurised milk which is illegal in the USA. You might also want to avoid the Sicilian cheese, Casu Marzu. Customs officials are not keen on the live maggots in the cheese (these can actually cause a nasty intestinal disease, pseudomyiasis). The TSA publishes an informative, exhaustive and frequently updated list of food and beverage prohibitions.
In an effort to control its litter problem and prevent damage to streets and monuments, Singapore controversially banned chewing gum in 1992. However, the ban is not as complete as you might think. While it is illegal to sell or import chewing gum, you can bring in a couple of packs for personal use. As Singapore is dependent on imports for most of its food, there are relatively few prohibited food and drink items that travellers can't bring in for their own consumption. But, if you like local delicacies and are flight-hopping between Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Malaysia be careful. Products such as Bak Kwa and Lap Cheong (unless it's vacuumed-sealed) are processed meat products and will be confiscated at customs.
Australia probably has some of the most stringent food controls and strictest customs officials in the world. This is in an attempt to protect its own flora and fauna from imported diseases and pests. One thing that you definitely can't bring in is food and drink provided by your airline or cruise ship. Other food and drink products such as tea, anything with nuts, seafood, soft drinks and meat items should always be declared. Usually, you will be allowed to pass through customs with these but if you haven't declared them and they're found, you will almost definitely be penalised with a hefty fine. Don't attempt to take in live plants (including fruit and vegetables) or rice (Australia is trying to prevent the deadly khapra beetle from reaching its shores). To be on the safe side, check the official government list of prohibited food and drink before you travel.
Liquids on planes
In response to terrorist alerts and attacks, most airlines have over the last few years introduced very strict policies about liquids (both drinks and toiletries) on flights. Although there might be some slight variations, particularly with domestic flights, the general rule is that no container can hold more than 100ml of liquid. This container must then be put into a clear resealable plastic bag for passing through security. You may be surprised to hear that items such as Brie and nut butter count as liquids. However, breast and baby milk in larger containers may be allowed if it is for use on the flight. Most airports have shops where alcohol and other drinks can be bought between going through security and boarding your flight. Items purchased through the duty-free shops and stores located pass the initial security check-point are allowed onboard and you can take these onto the plane with you. Save money on bottled water by passing an empty bottle (with the lid off) through security and filling it from a drinking water tap in the terminal as most major airports now have water refill stations.
Don't risk a hefty fine at customs
If you get to customs with an expensive but banned item, pleading ignorance won't prevent its confiscation. It is your responsibility as a passenger to check what is and isn't allowed onto your flight and into your chosen holiday destination. Your airline probably has the information on its website or will be able to advise you via a quick email or telephone call. If not, check out the government website of your destination country.