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We'll be travelling to the Schengen soon. Our first port of entry will be the Netherlands. My toddler is an extremely picky eater so I am wondering if I can cook food for him, vacuum seal it, and pack it in my checked-in luggage.

Are there any allowances or exceptions?

Our country of departure will be Pakistan, and there will be a short transit in Dubai since we're flying emirates.

Thanks.

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Whether you are allowed to bring food in depends on where you are from and what food you intent to bring in. But any meat from outside the Schengen area/EU is not allowed.

Checks on illegal imports are not that common but they do exist and when they do find you bringing things in you will have it taken and likely been given a fine on top.

Within the Netherlands you can buy all food you need, even if not all will be exactly what you are used to. So plan to stay in a place you can cook and only bring a single serving (or maybe two) for your child, (vegetarian is best,) talk with the officials at the customs station. Ask them for permission.
In that case you may have to hand it in to be destroyed, but you will not get a fine and if it is no meat/animal products and will be eaten in a short time you might get away with it.

If you can get your child to eat factory made food that has no animal products in, you can bring in more than for just one or two meals.

This site of the Dutch Tax agency, which also run the customs and food security at the border (thanks to @DavidPostill for the link) gives you details.

  • note that you are only allowed to import factory processed food, not raw food. So powdered or sterilised milk in UNOPENED cans is ok, a jug of milk from your own cow with a wax lid your mother melted over it is not. A sealed package of peanuts from the corner store is fine, the peanuts you harvested from your garden are not. – jwenting May 29 '17 at 10:50
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To expand on Willeke's answer: no, you are not allowed to bring home cooked food with you into the EU. You are only allowed to bring UNOPENED (iow sealed) packages of factory processed food stuffs, further limited by the lists on the website linked in her answer. So no raw meat, dairy products, etc. The same goes for plant products as well. Exception is fish, there you can bring in 20 kilos or RAW fish as long as the fish is not a species that's on the endangered species list (and as long as it's dead).

For plant material, an excemption of 5 kilos of vegetables, 5 flowers, OR 5 tubers (so 5 potatoes for example) for personal use can apply, IF the material does not pose a risk to local flora and fauna (which if rather vaguely worded and thus open for interpretation by the customs officials).

All other cases you need a certificate from recognised authorities indicating that the products you're trying to import are safe and do not pose a risk of spreading invasive species, plant or animal diseases, parasites, etc. etc. Which can get rather costly for some food for your child.

In all, unless your child is used to eating the local brand of canned baby food, I'd not even try and get them used to being less picky before setting out on your trip. You'll be happy you did that whether you take the trip or not, a picky eater is trouble at any age :)

  • Well, yes, going by customs rules, I plan on vacuum packing only 5 kgs of cooked vegetables (no meat). – Saadia May 29 '17 at 11:10

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