On my trip to the US, I'm planning to bring condiments containing pink pepper, typical of French cuisine, as a gift. Something like this:

enter image description here

As I understand, there should be no problem with bringing commercially packaged foods. However, since pink peppercorn lacks GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in the US, I wonder if there are additional restrictions I could face.

Also, should I declare it or just pack in my luggage and go ahead?

  • 6
    Always declare your food, even food that is allowed. Not doing so is a great way to have a really bad day at Customs. Nov 8, 2016 at 21:10
  • 3
    And you should be okay with the product pictured, as CBP info on such Food Products (Prepared) says As a general rule, condiments, vinegars, oils, packaged spices, honey, coffee and tea are admissible.
    – Giorgio
    Nov 8, 2016 at 23:33
  • 2
    GRAS status appears to be for food additives, not for foods themselves. Also, many customs regulations have nothing to do with safety.
    – phoog
    Nov 9, 2016 at 16:32
  • @phoog I don't quite understand the difference. Say, I'm a company who wants to sell pink pepper in the US, will in be easier to do so if I sell chicken wings with pink pepper than if I were to sell pink pepper alone? Or did you mean something else entirely? Nov 9, 2016 at 16:44
  • @DmitryGrigoryev the point is that pepper isn't something you would find in the database. It's a database of chemicals, or more precisely, of substances, (derived from foods) rather than of foods themselves. For example, there is a (closed) entry for Piperine derived from the fruits of Piper nigrum L (black pepper) or P. longum (long pepper). Anyway, the premise of your question is incorrect, as Schinus molle is recognized as safe by regulation: ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/…
    – phoog
    Nov 9, 2016 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can with some kinds of food. I routinely bring in Kinder Surprise eggs which are apparently banned by FDA. As long as you a) declare everything to US Customs, and b) the amount you're bringing is obviously for personal consumption, you are solid. While Customs can in theory confiscate this stuff, in my experience they always showed leeway as long as two conditions above were satisfied.

However if you're bringing meat, raw fruit/veggies or dairy, those might not be allowed - and I've seen those confiscated at secondary control.

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