Edible Souvenirs: Rules for Bringing Food and Drink Back Into the United States

Got a bottle of Tuscan Extra-Virgin stashed in your suitcase? Or maybe a jar of French Provencal honey up your sleeve?

Bringing home a souvenir from a great summer vacation goes back to the dawn of travel, and as foodies we naturally gravitate toward mementos of the edible variety. That's why it's good to know upfront: What can we bring back into the United States?

Free and clear to bring into the US:
bakery items
some cheeses (check before purchasing)
condiments, vinegars, oils
packaged spices
honey
coffee and tea

Potentially problematic and could be confiscated:
absinthe (thujone level must be less than 10 parts per million)
fresh or cured meats
any foods containing meat products (including bouillon and soup mixes)
rice
fruits and vegetables
plants
plant or animal products (including things like like straw baskets or fur coats)

The regulations regarding the importation of wine and alcohol can get complicated and it's best to check specific US Customs regulations if you're planning on purchasing more than a bottle or two of wine. In general, you are allowed one liter of alcohol and can pay a fee (duty) to bring more.

For more detailed information, visit the US Customs website:

Bringing Food Into the United States
Prohibited and Restricted Items

Any more tips for handling Customs or horror stories to share?!

Related: What Foods Can You Carry On The Plane?

(Image: Flickr member Librarian Avenger licensed under Creative Commons)