CBP Canine Alerts to Prohibited Pork Sausage Arriving at Newark Airport

CBP Canine Kody with prohibited homemade sausage. Photo credit: US Customs and Border Protection.

In early January 2021, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists found 88 pounds of prohibited homemade pork sausage in luggage originating in Kosovo at the Newark Liberty International Airport. A CBP canine, Kody, examined the luggage, alerting his handler to its contents. Swine meat is prohibited from Kosovo as per 9CFR94 of USDA regulations. The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) applauds this successful event, along with hundreds of similar confiscations annually, as pork products are an identified vector for transmission of foreign animal disease, including African swine fever.

“The importation of swine meat, though seemingly harmless to the general public, could cause grave damage to our economy and agricultural industry, and CBP does its part in keeping these prohibited items from entering the United States.” said Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.

“To protect the health of the US swine herd and prevent introduction of foreign animal disease, SHIC has been working closely with other pork industry organizations as well as Customs and Border Protection Staff,” remarked SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg. SHIC has encouraged diligence in secondary screenings by CBP for persons visiting the US, or upon returning following international travel, after farm visits abroad.

CBP’s agriculture specialists are on the front line in safeguarding America’s agricultural resources. On a typical day in fiscal year 2019, CBP agriculture specialists throughout the nation seized 4,695 prohibited plants, meats, animal byproducts, and soils and intercepted 314 insect pests. Learn more about how CBP Agriculture Specialists protect the United States from dangerous pests and disease that could affect the country’s economic vitality.

In addition to CBP efforts to exclude foreign animal disease vectors, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently posted its fiscal year 2020 enforcement activity summary data. The report provides information on enforcement efforts in the areas of biotechnology, agricultural quarantine inspection, animal and plant health, and animal welfare and horse protection. The Agency says the data illustrates their efforts to promote compliance with regulations to protect American agriculture.

In the report, APHIS wrote, “To support agricultural quarantine inspection activities in fiscal year 2020, APHIS Investigative and Enforcement Services opened 907 cases; sent 316 warning letters; and issued 488 pre-litigation settlement agreements, resulting in the collection of $1,393,424 in stipulated penalties. In one case, APHIS Investigative and Enforcement Services negotiated a pre-litigation settlement agreement for $364,000 to resolve more than 100 alleged violations of the Plant Protection Act and the Animal Health Protection Act relating to the handling of regulated garbage. In another case, APHIS entered into a Consent Decision and Order relating to multiple violations of shipment holds placed by Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, resulting in an $18,750 civil penalty.”

Activities of these two government agencies illustrate the significant threat of foreign animal disease introduction into the US via regulated and prohibited items, including swine meat. Staff of these agencies along with the CBP Beagle Brigade perform essential tasks related to safeguarding the health of the US swine herd.

Note for International Travelers

International travelers returning to the US, or those arriving from other countries, after visiting a farm or being in contact with animals in a country (or countries) with ASF, or any other foreign animal disease, should declare this information to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) via written form, airport kiosk, or verbally. SHIC, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), National Pork Board (NPB), and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) continue to ask international travelers to report if they were not diverted for secondary screening upon arrival in the United States.

If you are NOT diverted for secondary screening after declaring you have been on a farm or in contact with animals in an ASF or other foreign animal disease positive nation, please email the following to psundberg@swinehealth.org:

Dr. Sundberg aggregates this information so SHIC, AASV, NPB, and NPPC can share it with CBP to help identify areas for continued focus.

As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, SHIC continues to focus efforts on prevention, preparedness, and response to novel and emerging swine disease for the benefit of US swine health. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research. Forward, reprint, and quote SHIC material freely. SHIC is funded by America’s pork producers to fulfill its mission to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd. For more information, visit https://www.swinehealth.org or contact Dr. Sundberg at psundberg@swinehealth.org.