Foie Gras

What is the latest info on bringing jarred or tinned Foie Gras into the US...Traveling to Dordogne and would like to bring back a small amount but seems that I heard in early 2012 that there are new restrictions.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1349 posts

I brought some back last fall, and I was really sorry I did. They ended up letting me keep it, but I had to wait around for a long time while they did I don't know what -- looked up stuff, talked it over, etc. Maybe it depends on who happens to be on duty.

Posted by Sandy
San Antonio
5 posts

Maybe I will take a copy of that site with me and ask for the customs agent who will let it through :)

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
632 posts

I doubt it will be a problem if it is well marked. I wouldn't bring a lot back just in case. I absolutely loved the Dordogne and could spend a lot more time there. I hope you'll have a car with a GPS because it makes everything very easy. My only mistake was not venturing out in the evenings for dinner and using the Rick Steve's(or whichever guide book you choose) for restaurant choices. Everything is amazing there and the diversity of what you can do in a day is incredible.

Posted by Liz
Round Rock, TX, USA
91 posts

I got sent through the "inspection" line last night after arriving back from France and going through customs. I had put spices on my list of foods coming back. The first guy said they were going to check my "spices" but the only thing the inspector asked, and he asked it three times was if I had brought any foie gras with me. I don't know if it was allowed but it was a weird question. He made no mention of my spices. I did notices this morning when I unpacked that someone did in fact go through my suit case and opened the ziplock with my spices in it. They did not reseal the bag. Also my suitcase was not locked in the same manner as I did it.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

We've brought back foie gras w/o a problem, but that was several years ago, and as everyone knows, there's been a few changes in air travel, security and inspections since then. We did bring back rillette this Spring with no problem; the inspector was mostly concerned about whether we had any pork products. I'd recommend bringing some back, but I'd suggest a jar rather than a tin. I know about the California ban, but unless you're flying into California that's not a problem, and even then I doubt it is. As to Liz's comments, did you fly into California? And I assume the inspectors' issue with "spices" involved a resemblance to drugs. Otherwise I don't know why they'd care. But it doesn't sound like an unwelcome experience. It all really depends on the inspector you get. On our recent return via Dublin so young man was so incredibly friendly and pleasant, and was pretty much telling us what answers to give. I got the impression he couldn't wait until quitting time when he could go out and have a Guinness.

Posted by Sandy
San Antonio
5 posts

Liz in Round Rock...Where did you go through customs? I will be going through in Atlanta...I have read that there was not an issue unless there were "fillers"....ie maybe Pork....and I also read that someone had issues with products with the name "Foie Gras" on the label but not if it was listed as an ingredient....Sounds like a crap shoot....I'm going to give it try and but not make a large investment just in case. I will post after I get back. Thanks to all the input.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

One thing you could do is do as a ChowHound user did and email the USDA. They will say something along the lines of: Personal use amounts of poultry products packed in hermetically sealed containers and cooked by a commercial to produce products that are shelf-stable without refrigeration, are allowed in passenger baggage. Print the email, bring it with you, show it to a customs official who gives you any grief.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6831 posts

Problem is that the USDA may have one regulation, and the FDA, CDC or some other agency has conflicting policies. It's up to US Customs to sort it all out, so what's allowed one week may be different another week. Whatever you do, make sure you declare it. The more stamps in your passport the more likely you will be fined if caught attempting to get away something;)

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

I totally agree with Michael, but would add to his statement what's "allowed one week may be different another week": What's allowed by one Custom's inspector might be disallowed by the guy in the next booth. As to declaring, I also totally agree, and never try to hide anything. While the chances of getting caught may be small, the consequences of getting caught are probably pretty significant. I find that when you're totally upfront, Customs inspectors will bend over backwards to let things through, to the extent of even suggesting how you should answer their question. For example, our issues usually involve cheese from France, and we've had inspectors say: "What kind of cheese; you need a knife to cut it, right?" Or: "What's the packaging? A sealed cheese?"

Posted by James
Frisco
1787 posts

Apparently food MUST be declared. If that's the case then the Global Entry kiosk will not be an option. I've been told that locally produced (US) refrigerated pate is better than canned pate. If that helps you make a decision. I really wouldnt know. I can only afford it when I travel to Budapest (its snack food there). IN the US its way out of my league.

Posted by Sandy
San Antonio
5 posts

Fois Gras Update: I brought back 1 small can of Fois Gras ( the merchant suggested tinned rather than jarred and I had decide to get pure rather than something with filler) and went through customs in Atlanta. I declared it and was sent through the USDA line ( of 1 person). The agent did not have a clue what it was. I showed him the can and he said as long as the meat is cooked, commercially packaged and does not contain BEEF, they have no problem....Se la vie

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1967 posts

Good news Sandy.
At one point it was the bird flu scare that cause the restriction. For other products, it was the mad cow. We were always allowed to bring in canned, but not bottled, foie gras before those diseases. The reason for canned instead of bottled is the higher processing temperature.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Once we brought home foie gras from France, and when we told the agent at Customs he said "Foie what?" So I said, "You know, like pate," and he said fine.