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K-State Today

February 21, 2014

Food safety expert discusses regulations for Olympic travelers returning home

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Enjoy the international food while abroad because you can't bring leftovers back to the United States.

With the Olympics coming to an end soon, travelers will have to enjoy the Russian cuisine while in Sochi because U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations will not allow agricultural-based products like fruits, vegetables and packaged meats into the United States.

"You do not want to bring any pests or any kind of disease that might be prevalent over in other countries into the United States," said Karen Blakeslee, food safety specialist and extension associate in animal sciences and industry at Kansas State University. "They could really cause a lot of potential problems for our agriculture that we may never have had before."

Blakeslee says to do your research before traveling abroad so you know what you can and can't bring home. According to the USDA, the importation of fresh meat into the United States from Russia is prohibited and many Russian meat products are restricted, depending on how they are processed.

Craft items and souvenirs made with unprocessed wood are also prohibited from entering the U.S. because these products might harbor potential pests.

You must declare all food and agricultural products when arriving in the United States. The civil penalty for failing to do so is $300 for first-time offenders.