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So I'm in the UK right now and will be returning to the US in a few days and would like to bring back a particular foodstuff with me (sausage) to share with someone. Is this possible and if so, how? I figure keeping it refrigerated isn't a huge issue - just buy some thermal bags and a bunch of ice blocks or dry ice or some such and pack it really well. What's less clear to me is transporting it.

Bringing it on board the plane as a carry-on would likely not work. Maybe it would if I put it in checked luggage? Or would it be better if I shipped it via Royal Mail or something?

  • Both Dry-Ice and Wet-Ice are restricted on most airlines. Generally wet ice is not allowed at all. Dry-ice may be allowed, but is normally very restricted in terms of quantity and how it must be declared/labeled. Recently a United Airlines flight had to turn around mid-flight when they realized they had put (too much) dry-ice in the same compartment as a dog, which would have likely resulted in the dog suffocating. – Doc Jun 18 '14 at 23:54
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The short and sweet answer is, sorry, no.

There are quite a few import restrictions on meat into the US, and pork products are almost entirely not allowed unless they're canned pork cooked in the can.

In very few cases swine and swine products can enter the United States. Commercially canned pork is allowed if the CBP officer can determine from the label that the meat was cooked in the can after it was sealed to make it shelf-stable without refrigeration.

The short and sweet answer for many popular products (from countries other than those mentioned on the APHIS site) is as follows:

  • Sausage - No
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British Columbians are known to fly whole fresh salmon to Alberta and Ontario. The process is ad hoc and quintessentially Canadian as follows:

  • catch a beaut in the morning (or get a fresh one from a buddy who's out in the chuck that morning)
  • put the fish on ice as soon as it's caught
  • gut the fish
  • wrap the fish in a plastic bag, seal with duct tape
  • wrap that in an old plaid jacket
  • wrap that in another plastic bag, seal with duct tape
  • put that in your checked baggage
  • drive to the big smoke
  • get on a plane
  • barbeque the fish for dinner

The key here is to get and keep the fish good and cold prior to insulating it with your plaid jacket. Once it's inside your suitcase it'll be pretty well insulated from warming up. I figure you've got about 10 hours of transport time before it's warmed up so much you need to cook it. Flight time does not count toward that 10 hours -- the luggage compartment is pretty cold.

There's no border between BC and Ontario so, in this case, there's nothing to declare. However, I'm fairly certain that there are restrictions against bringing fresh food into the USA. You should probably figure out whether you're allowed to bring your sausages across the USA border.

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    When entering the US, you have to fill out a declaration form. One question of it reads: "Are you bringing with you: (...) b. meats, animals, or animal/wildlife products?" I am pretty sure that answering yes will result in your sausages being taken away. – traindriver Jun 18 '14 at 20:47
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    @traindriver And answering 'no' is likely to land you in a lot more trouble, as there are trained dogs operating in the luggage hall. My mom once forgot that she had two apples in her bag - but the dog somehow sniffed them out - and customs officer took the apples from her. Saying 'I forgot' may work for apples, but unlikely to work for a sausage carefully packed in the suitcase. – Aleks G Jun 18 '14 at 21:34

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