EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — An Albuquerque woman did say cheese when asked if she was bringing any food products into the U.S. from Mexico, but she did not disclose how much.
The woman said she only had 10 wheels of cheese when she arrived at the Paso Del Norte Bridge on Tuesday morning, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
But upon further inspection, a CBP officer found an additional 50 wheels of cheese hidden under a blanket in the back row of the GMC Yukon.
With each wheel weighing just over 2 pounds, agricultural specialists seized and ultimately destroyed more than 100 pounds of undeclared cheese, CBP said.
The woman, a U.S. citizen, was fined $1,000.
CBP officials say travelers are allowed to import cheese as long as it is for personal consumption.
“A few wheels would generally be fine but not 60,” said Ray Provencio, the port director for CBP in El Paso. “It was undeclared and that amount would be a commercial quantity and additional reporting requirements would apply.”
Both CBP and the Department of Agriculture restrict imports of food products like milk, cream, ice cream, butter and cheese, and all dairy products must meet several requirements set by the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration.
Additionally, CBP said the wrappers or cartons for milk and cream must be printed with the country of origin.