Those flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with foreign food in tow should beware: the contraband seized by customs will make it no further onto U.S. soil. It is where “illegal” food comes to die.
Customs officials are tasked with making sure the fruits, vegetables and other food stuffs travelers haul with them to the States don’t make it through the gate.
“The reason why we’re confiscating all this stuff is not because it’s harmful to a human being; it’s harmful for our plants and our animals,” U.S. Customs Supervisor Ellie Scaffa said in a video by Great Big Story.
All food confiscated at the airport is destroyed at the “grinder table “at the “contraband bin” on site to ensure that any pests and diseases it may carry does not contaminate homegrown goods.
Agents take possession of between four and six hundred pounds of food a day from among the 1.5 million passengers who come through JFK Airport, Scaffa said.
“Every day is different, every season is different… I’ve been threatened by Haiti with voodoo over food. I’ve taken mangos from passengers from Jamaica and been threatened with my life. Never a dull moment here at JFK,” she said.
“This is what we have to do to protect American agriculture. It’s part of our job.”