Woman Loses Global Entry And Fined $500 Over An Apple…And It Could Have Happened To Me

177
DDMS IconNever Miss Another Deal - Follow DansDeals on Facebook

Update: Congressman Ed Perlmutter met with US Customs after hearing her story and got them to waive Crystal’s fine and reinstate her Global Entry status.

I think that’s appropriate given the innocent mistake based on an apple obtained on the plane and due to the snarkiness of the customs agent. A warning to a first-time offender makes sense to me.

Her story has already changed how I travel.

When I flew back from my family from Tel Aviv last month I declared having food with us that I previously might not have declared. Our items were fairly innocuous, we brought back some Kariot cereal, Smirnoff Ice bottles, pas yisroel Oreos, chocolate, wine, and similar items that customs doesn’t care about. We had to have our bags X-rayed at customs, which was a pain. But that’s surely better than potentially losing Global Entry status and facing a fine!


Crystal Tadlock flew on Delta from Paris to Minneapolis. Delta had apples on the flight and she put on into her bag without thinking about it.

She had a Global Entry membership, so instead of signing a form, she just went to a kiosk to enter the country. It’s very easy to answer “No to all” and not even think about the line asking about bringing in fruits or vegetables.

The kiosk prints a slip which you hand over to a customs agent. The agent stopped her and asked her if her French vacation was expensive. She answered that it was and he replied that it’s going to be even more expensive thanks to the $500 fine I’m giving you for having an apple in your bag.

Talk about being snarky!

She also lost her Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check membership, which makes flying a pleasure once again. That would hurt me even more than the fine.

The crazy thing is that it almost happened to me.

In 2014 we flew with our kids to Brazil:

We had an overnight in Miami on the way there and stayed at the W South Beach. Rafi was obsessed with apples at the time and his face lit up when he saw the giant basket of red and green apples that they have at the front desk there. He grabbed several of them and we thought nothing more about them.

In a Sao Paulo flea market, we even got 2 small paintings of red and green apples for Rafi’s room back home.

Fast forward to the end of the trip. After a nerve racking missed flight due to gridlock in Rio de Janeiro, we made the connecting flight from Sao Paulo to Miami by the skin of our teeth. Good thing to, as missing it would have meant adding another Shabbos in Brazil and missing out on the final TAM first class flight, where I had used 500K USAirways miles round-trip to book the entire $100,000 living room style cabin exclusively for us:

 

In Miami we got pulled aside by customs who asked if we had any fruits or vegetables with us. One of the things I love about Brazil are the incredible exotic fruits that they have there. I’ve always wished I could bring some home, but I would never risk doing that. So I answered of course not and he proceeded to search our bags. And sure enough, in Rafi’s little monkey backpack was one of the apples that he had taken from the W South Beach to Brazil and back to Miami again!

The agent was livid as we explained that we had no idea about the apple being in the backpack, but that Rafi must have put it in his bag in Miami. Incredulously, he turned to 3 year old Rafi and asked him if he was the one that put the apple in his backpack in Miami and Rafi confirmed exactly that.

The agent then laughed and waived us through, but I shudder to think about what could have been if he was in a worse mood.

 

This DDF thread includes a wiki where people share which countries do or do not cause issues for bringing food past customs.

Not all countries are as vigilant as the US. In Palau, the customs agents were shocked to learn about kosher food and how I travel everywhere with my own food, but they said to be sure to tell all of my friends about their awesome country. Despite spending just 1 night, I did have the time of my life there.

Have you ever gotten in trouble for bringing food into a country?

Leave a Reply

177 Comments On "Woman Loses Global Entry And Fined $500 Over An Apple…And It Could Have Happened To Me"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
mark

I have not gotten into trouble but I do know a woman was intentionally lied about it and was caught. She paid a hefty fine and was flagged for the future. Every time she comes and goes, they stop her and search all her bags. Her husband has to sit and wait for her sometimes for more than an hour.
Suffice it to say – he’s not happy with her. Especially because he warned her not to try it.

Jonathan R

“The agent stopped her and asked her if her French vacation was expensive.”
How did the agent know she had an apple in her bag before going through it?

Helen

If you read the CNN article, it says that her bag was searched and he found it and then he asked the question.

Anon

According to the article, he did go through her bag, found the apple, and then asked the question.

Ken

Wait a second: on ABC world news last night it was mentioned that Crystal was initially given two options: 1) eat it on the spot or 2) throw it out. But neither of those options “interested” her.
If this info is correct I feel zero sympathy. If she truly forgot and was immediately hit with a fine, then that is horrible. I dont feel like looking up the details, but I will relay what I recall.

A

No, she offered to eat it or throw it out but that offer was rejected by the agent.

pau

why cant you pay the fine adn just dispute it on cc ?

Abka

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, greatly appreciate it!

Liz

Yes,same exact story as this woman. I forgot that I had an apple from the flight and the agent told me I could be fined and lose global entry but she chose not to report me. I surrendered my apple and got yelled at a lot. Seeing this story I am grateful that she let me go.

jim

in 2012 after returning from trip to nepal. I brought several packs of buff jerkies, buff dry meat packs, the plastic would say dry buff meat. as an asian and going home for first time that far, i like everyone else would bring many food including spices. I said NO to custom form. I had no GE. At the exit, the custom agent asks me why i have so many bags and tells me to go there at the baggage check. The female custom bag chekc agent scanned all four of my large duffle bags and wanted me to open, I cooperated and ask the agent to break the locks since I cant find the keys, she tried and i found the keys, she opened and i explained many of the things wrapped, some are bowls, cups, plates, spices, etc, she then found the meat packs all 6 of them. asks me why i answered NO on food. I apologized and told her this is my first international trip and I thought the declaration question was about many items to sell and these are for my own consumption. I said sorry and I will declare in future. She took all the meat packs, i waited for 3 mins. just verbal warning and let me go. I applied for GE in 2016. Nothing of that came up and it was easy approval.

Now that was good experience with any cbp agents but at other times, as an asian american, they treat like you unwanted illegal alien at the US canadian border and once during our trip to Seoul, when a female custom agent was doing jet bridge questioning, very rude and sad expereince.

zow

Similar story here. DD and I came back from DXB via YYZ. We had leftover food with us. Nothing that is considered contraband (ie, no meat, dairy, produce), but I absentmindedly clicked “no” to the question about food. The CBP asked if I’m bringing back any food, and I say “just snacks, like energy bars.” He said “that’s food” and you said “no food”. He said, “you’re lucky I’m in a good mood today, because I could revoke your Global Entry.” I was indeed lucky and grateful. We are more careful now about what we answer on screen.

Jack out of the box

I always tell them truth. The questionnaire asks about food so when I’m asked by an agent what I have, I start the list with things like chocolate, wine, cake, etc. Before I get halfway down the list they wave me on.
One time on Succos I brought a large Yemenite-type esrog from Israel. The agent takes a look at it and says “nice” and sends me on my way. One time my wife had an apple from the flight. She was instructed by an agent to discard it but she got no answer about why the airlines are permitted to serve “contaminated apples” on board.

zf

I do the same thing coming from Canada by car. they have a real bug about fruit. So in response to the question of if I have any food, I answer of course, we have another 6 hour drive, and i start getting into details about every sandwich, cake, danishes, etc. they finally wave us through, before we get to the fruit

Shmueli

Dan: Why didn’t you just blame Delta?

iahphx

Yeah, this is scary stuff for all frequent int’l travelers — and, in a way, that might be what customs wants. When I take my family to remote destinations, we always have some food and drink with us. More than once, I’ve been stopped at airport security on the way home because I still had a water bottle in a bag (even though I thought I had already emptied all of them). This lady’s fine will probably cause me to be more vigilant in checking my luggage for “contraband” than I otherwise would be.

Dima

As she should be. What’s the point of this post? Next, cocaine traffickers jailed for trafficking cocaine?

Shmuly

We were once arriving in the USA and hsd snacks with us. No fruit, meat etc. We automatically checked no to all remembering that those were the issue. They asked us if we had food and we said yes some snacks. They then became pretty tough and made us go into a room. They pulled our luggage and made us wait for them to inspect it. Threatened to take away our global entry. Why? Because the question now includes any “food”. So now we say yes to food and tell them what it is.

Hvaces42

I brought kosher salami back from Hungary and kept it triple wrapped and it was vacuum packed in my bag that had my dirty laundry. The poor guy who brought his half eaten cold cut sandwich off the flight in his carry on was caught by the dog sniffing the bags as they came off the conveyor.

I cant get GE anyway…been denied already. So i travel like the regular folk.

sam

The Us will allow apples if it has a product of usa sticker.
Citrus fruits are never allowed in.

Ben

At 16 years old, I flew TLV-PHL-YYZ by myself and brought home some fresh Israeli fruit for the family. Naturally, (no pun intended) US customs found it. I told them that I was bringing it to Canada and that the US was just a connection, so they had a customs agent escort me (and the bag with the fresh fruit) through the airport to make sure I checked it in to the flight to Canada. The things you can get away with when you’re 16 and innocent looking 🙂

Mordy

When you fly into Australia, every airport has a ton of bins before customs to throw out fruit and veggies before you go through, also massive signs reminding you to use them.

When flying the other way to LAX I asked the line helper agent where I could throw out fruit, they told me to go through the super slow line xray line just to throw out fruit. (I think after their recent renovation they “corrected” this but still was super weird.)

I’m surprised that you are surprised by the snark @Dan, I think they teach it at Border agent school. US officers are generally super rude imho.

Jim

Honestly, I thought US CBP agents were the worst but they really aren’t IME as that award goes to the Canadians. I never really had a “pleasant” experience with a Canadian CBP agent but I’ve had good experiences with several US CBP agents.

Ddf memeber

Almost happened to me with lulav. I plea to them. I did not hide it I showed it to the agent. And they wanted to fin me 500busd and remove my GE for life.

Mordy

I think my story is worse. We were in Toronto, where TSA has a checkpoint prior to entry.
After I checked off my Global Entry I realized I had an apple in my pocket.

Get this: I looked for a garbage can to toss it, couldn’t find one. So, straight shooter that I am (in retrospect, a fool) I asked an agent where I could throw it out. (Remember, I had not yet entered the main airport area yet – we are still in Toronto).

He went nuclear, took my wife and I to a back room for a half hour interrogation and teardown of our carry-ons. He was rude and hostile.

No fine in the end, but my wife – who did nothing wrong – still gets flagged at TSA at times, years later. They cite the apple incident.

All because I asked where I could throw out an apple… in Toronto.

I\'ll never try this again but...

Let’s just say that while I immensely enjoyed my fresh guava and passion fruit from Hawaii, the guy in back of me on line at kona Airport didn’t manage to bring his through – he got yelled at but that’s about all.

lindnuck

Flying out of Vancouver you go through US customs BEFORE your flight to the US, so technically once you’re in the gate area you are “in” the US even though you haven’t left Vancouver.

Using Nexus (similar to GE), I answered no to all questions forgetting the above. I did have a banana on me, which I intended to eat at the gate for breakfast since this was an early flight.

I was pulled out of line and asked if I had any food in my bag, and answered honestly but explained my plan. I spent the next 5 minutes getting lectured by the agent about how I could be kicked out of the program and to never do it again. And he took my banana. Keep in mind after customs there are numerous restaurants selling CANADIAN bananas that you can purchase!

Anyway, a few years later I was up for renewal of my Nexus card and again was subjected to a long lecture about the banana. I profusely apologized, explained my mistake and that I had never done it again. The agent still was angry and told me I was lucky, shaking his head over and over.

The Nexus interview includes an interview with the US agent and then the Canadian one, but they sit in the same room. When I went to speak to the Canadian agent, she was laughing and mocking her US colleague, and rolling her eyes about the banana.

Anyway, I’m glad I received a verbal bashing rather than getting yanked out of Nexus (and its automatic inclusion in GE and TSAPre).

NINA GLICK

I was driving with my Nexus through the Champlain border from NY to Canada. I was asked if I had purchased anything and I said no (which was the truth). The agent put his head in the car and asked about the can of Diet Coke that I had in the cup holder next to the driver’s seat. I received a ten minute lecture of the importance of not lying the next time I went through the border. It did not affect my Nexus renewal B”H.

micheal

was leaving iceland to USA in my backpack was a box of Kosher Smooze All Natural Fruit Ice, Coconut & Pink Guava 6 pack purchased before at London and lots of kosher chips, chocolate they opened it and looked and smiled and put everything nicely back, and they said its all good, not to mention their security checkpoint is blazing fast with so many agents.

JB

How much cash does one need to have on themselves in order to declare it if coming from over seas?

Jack out of the box

$10,000 last time I checked. Applies whether you’re going in or out.

JB

Ill have about 10k.. anyone have experience.what if i dont say anyhting and they check me? what happens if i say i have, will they question me/tax me?

Jack out of the box

Check the CBP website for details.

SREPW

Relative of mine went to Israel recently each carried close to 10k thinking its 10k per person. In short they had all money confiscated. I don’t know if they ever got it back. Be VERY careful. You don’t “just” lose global entry!

Mordy

Remember, it’s 10k TOTAL per family…

Something Fishy

Got caught by a sniffer dog in EWR with some jerky I had forgotten about. Line agent said that the inspector will have me killed – or worse, expelled.

Thankfully the inspector was in a good mood and just threw it away.

Eli

Article says Global Entry cost $160. #FakeNews

Yankel G.

Maybe she’s also including transportation to the interview…

Shaul

I certainly hope that the thousands of illegals that cross our southern border aren’t violating any laws by carrying any apples with them…

SearchGuy

I always write yes on question 2, when they ask me I say what I think I have, most of the times they let me through unchecked, and even if they do check it’s another 5 minutes, last time I came in to JFK they took the paper right away and not at the exit

dave

same here we got caught in EWR with a few palmettos from Israel in our bag that we forgot about. Agent said we are lucky and that they could fine us $300.
Dan you think she can challenge this fine and appeal. I mean this is extreme penalties. Cant someone lobby to change/modify the rules so that this is not so dry and cut throat. There has to be a way to vet out those that forgot about a few pieces of fruit!

Jack out of the box

It’s pretty easy to plan ahead (aside from those sneaky apples 😉 ) by checking in advance on the CBP website. https://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go/prohibited-and-restricted-items
Before I flew with 4 minim I found specific info about it on their site.

Sawlw

I’ve been stopped and threatened about losing GE coming in with a roll of crackers, the agent pointed out that “food” is listed on the slip and I should have read it prior to signing it. Lesson learned I always declare food, agent asks what’s I’m carrying (candies/ pastries) and passes me through..

Helen

After Pesach when I was unpacking my kids carry-ons from our trip home from Israel I found a bag with some fruit they had taken along to eat on the plane but didn’t end up eating. I completely forgot they even had it and I cringe to think what could have happened if they had stopped and searched us! Thank G-d, He was watching over us :).

Shimino1

Got busted coming in to Israel with an apple after they scanned my bags. They made me promise to eat it before leaving the airport and then let me go. Didn’t seem like they cared much just going through the motions.

Davidthebest

Had the same in EWR when they pulled us over and checked out bags and found apples that we forgot we left on backpack for the kids on the plane .
The agent was tough but considerate and warned us we should make sure it never happens again and let us go without fine.

Josef.koney

Things could go very well, and sometimes not. It all depends on god and how you deal with the situation.
I mistakenly had a kind of pocket knife that’s called a concealed weapon, which means being arrested btw, (obviously not to my knowledge) in my bag, (I forgot to take it out…) when the tsa agent asked why, I explained it was a total mistake and he can happily keep it.
He felt bad for me but said it was out of his hands… He waited for the higher ups, which after much questioning and patting etc, decided to let me go with a warning thank God. They said its on file, and if another thing would happen I’d be detained.

Moishe

Interestingly, I was once driving with some friends to Canada for the weekend. Crossing into Canada, we were asked whether we have any weapons or drugs with us. We responded no but they proceeded to remove everything from our car to search (A couple of Yeshiva Guys must have seemed suspicious to them).
On the way back into the US, we handed a border agent our passport and he asked whether we were bringing any fruits into the country. We told him we were not (later we found a carton of blueberries in our cooler) and he waved us right through. We had a good laugh about how seriously they take security there.

Yainkuv B.

And How do u know if which country allows to you to bring in house food to there country????
We only eat kosher so what am i supposed to do when we travel???? does anyone know????
how about acording to the rules officaly does anyone know if even eretz yirsoel allows u to bring in??????

Work-for-ur-muny

Eretz Yisroel is eager to accept anything ready to make an aliyah. Should have no problem with fruit there…

Mendel

Is this a conspiracy? You give out apples, we find them, then we share the profits?

MOSHE

do you know if i can bring in the us sea salt and honey ?

alyssa kaplan

it’s not a joke with the apple and the reason you cannot bring in apples and the like is not because of drug smuggling. People who bring in produce or plants have caused invasive species to arrive in the US causing major damage to this country. Fyi: you cannot bring in pineapples from Hawaii to the mainland for that reason.

Naphtali

I don’t have any sympathy. The fruit and vegetable question is not a new one, I always declare any food I have with me and let the customs folks figure out if what I have is okay, which it usually is because of processing.

Leah

If I declare fruits and they find it am I still subject to a fine ?

Zac

I had a scary experience… but ended up to our benefit. I had fruit from my stay in Mexico. Had in on the plane… and the stewardesses chatted most of the flight in the back and didn’t come around to collect garbage. I knew the fruit was a problem and looked for a garbage pail or bathroom on the long long long walk from the plane to customs… and there wasn’t any! I did not know what to do with it and put it in my bag and figured I would tell them when I got up front. Well… they came around the line with dogs sniffing around. I thought they sniff for drugs… apparently they sniff for fruit too! The dog is going crazy around my bag! I told them what happened. They had no problem just throwing it out for me… but here is the kicker. They pulled us form the line for an extensive check. We had already been on the line for a long time… but it was a ridiculously long line and we probably had an hour or more wait! They pulled us to the front… did an extensive search… and waived us through. So… it was scary to have them stop us like that… but we saved time in the end. I would not recommend trying this purposely, though. Could have gone quite sideways.

Kinder Egg Mule

I got caught with 120 kinder eggs coming back from Israel before they had them here in USA. Wrote it on form customs guy made me open them all up and my son got all upset and said hey it’s not a choking hazard this is such BS who would choke on a toy pill that size and then demanded to keep the toys and chocolate eggs… the agent said I could fine your dad 1200$ each or the 144,000$ But he ended up typing in the computer some notes and then threw a few out and then let us keep the rest after opening each one up and removing the toy part

Chava I

Oh wow I have been quite lucky indeed, BH. Dan, thanks for sharing this and motivating me to be more careful in the future.

Work-for-ur-muny

This happened almost 15 years ago, I was returning from Israel with matzah. There was an agent that I had to pass before going through passport control who asked me if I have food, I answered that I don’t. He then points to the matzah box asking what it is, so I told him that it’s matzah. “Is that not food?” he asked. I said “yes, it is, but I thought you were referring to food that needs to be declared.” He wrote something on the slip and waved me on. I’m not sure if the customs agent held me up, but definitely nothing memorable.

Fast forward, when I applied for GE I was very afraid that this incident will come up and not let it through. BH the application was approved with no issues. 1/2 lesson learned then, other 1/2 now…

What happens if food is declared? Does it make the whole speed of GE not worthwhile?

Al

If you answer “YES” to having food, there will be a big black circle on your receipt form saying Report to Baggage Control. The inspector will then ask you what kind of food you have. In busy airports, if it’s permissible items they will usually waive you through. In small airports like New Orleans, as soon as you answer that you have food, they make you open your bags. IMO, this goes against the spirit of the program as it appears to be automatic and bid based on there being reasonable grounds for not believing your declaration.

ninjaleh

Same thing happened to my husband on way home from Switzerland via LAX. Fined $500, lost global entry. Over an avocado and some fruit we were carrying in case the kids would be hungry on plane…Needless to say IT REALLY SUCKED. Always declare every edible.

Jack

Is Dried fruit ok

ninjaleh

And yes – we forgot we had it in the bag, if anyone was wondering if we were being deliberately sneaky. Either way, it doesn’t matter! They will fine u even if you forgot, because they can!

Suri

We still laugh about the expensive orange peel episode that happened over 20 years ago. Sitting in the airport one of the travelers noticed she had an orange which she knew wasn’t allowed in. So she ate it. Being lazy to go find a trash can she stuffed the peels into a side pocket of her carry on. Once she passed security they found it and fined her $85!

Mendy

I had GE, and came in with a sandwich, I answered no to all, and it was found. She told me she’s giving me a warning and wrote something on my receipt, which she kept. She told me I could’ve lost my GE immediately. But I’m curious, what happens if I answer that I do have food, is it an issue if I have GE? Or as long as it’s declared I can just throw it out when prompted and be fine?

kenny

It sounds like, if one is not 100% sure they have no fruit in their bag, it might be better to say yes and let them search, rather than take a chance they will find something and think you lied. I once had food sniffed out by a dog while in line. Fortunately, I had said yes on the form, and I had no problem. However, the agent told me if I had said no I could have been detained and fined big time.

Ak

I brought a mango in from Israel once. My sister-in-law has a mango tree in her backyard. She packed it in a plastic bag and then a Tupperware container without my knowing. Customs didn’t find it but I could have got in a lot of trouble for it I’m sure.

Here’s what I don’t get: Hawaii is a US state. Why is it a problem bringing fruit from one us state to another? Shouldn’t it be the same thing as Puerto Rico? There aren’t customs agents when you travel to or from Puerto Rico. Or maybe there are and I just don’t remember? (Last trip there was ‘05)

Alyssa

There are tons of rules with Hawaii. Insect pests from the us can wreak havoc in Hawaii

Dina

I’ll take that as the lesson: Always say I have food, just in case.

Moish

I once flew NJ to Montreal for the day. I took along a fruit cup purchased in a store in NJ, but never ended up eating it. On the way home, I was going through US customs (which is still in Canada). While on line, I asked a customs agent if I need to declare the fruit I bought from the US and taking it home. She said “no”. When it was my turn, the agent asked if I had any food. I said “only fruit that I bought in the US”. Needless to say, he blew a fit, threatening me with a fine and loss of GE. I pleaded with him to please ask the other agent that clearly told me I don’t need to declare it. He was nice enough, and he did. He let me go with no issues. I did research and found out that it DOES need to be declared. But I learned my lesson, and will never do it again.

Ellen

We took a ferry to Vancouver BC, and I knew you could not bring apples into Canada, so I ate the apple before the ferry docked but we still had the apple core in our garbage in the car – when asked if we had any fruit I truthfully said I had eaten the apple but still had the apple core in the garbage bag – our car was pulled over, we were asked to step outside and our car was emptied and inspected before we could continue on our way.

jp

It’s crucial to the safety of our food supply to keep out foreign pests. A good portion of imported pests have come via “backyard” fruit and casual carriers, not commercial shipments. The threat is real and the cost is exorbitant. Quarantines and shipping bans on our amazing food products are no joke. It’s a shame she paid so dearly, but the loss of an apple crop could be devastating to the many growers, pickers and shippers who depend upon them for income, and at a much higher cost.

Al

When I came back from Israel a few months ago. I had a bottle of wine in my bag that I bought from a tzedakah event from a big rabbi. I paid a significant amount of money for the bottle and wanted to drink it on an occasion or yom tov. When I arrived in Newark I said no to having food because the wine was the only thing I had. Long story short, I got caught and the customs agent got very upset with me. I found myself having to explain the religious connection to the bottle. The agent was very rude and even made some racist comments. I asked to speak to his supervisor and told the person that I was sorry but the agent was being racist and rude. After speaking with the super I was allowed to go.

Shaul

You’re allowed to bring wine in up to the allowed amount duty free.

Me

I was once waiting for my luggage at the carousel in EWR when a dog sniffed my carry-on bag. I was harassed for having cookies in it because the question about fruit and veg actually asks if you have “food” as well. I was told that although it is permissible to bring cookies I was wrong for “lying”. I was given a warning and supposedly my next offense will be a $300 fine

reb yid

Wait…how much are you valuing spending 9 hours cooped up in a tiny “living room?”

Flash613

Once I went to Israel just after T”U Bshevat. My friend had given me a piece of bukser before the flight. I zipped it into a jacket pocket, and in Israel dumped into the bottom of my suitcase, where I forgot about it. Of course, I got pulled at Newark for special agriculture screening, with sniffing dogs. The good news —- even the dogs don’t think bukser is food! I was clear to proceed and found the bukser when I unpacked.

Flash613

Flew into Mexico City with bagels, tuna, and 2 salamis for a few days of meetings. Upon “random” inspection, my salamis were confiscated due to mad cow disease concerns. I’m sure those agents enjoyed them.

pau

he agent then laughed and waived us through, but I shudder to think about what could have been if he was in a worse mood.” whats the worse he could have done? fine you?

M

Declared meat and didn’t specify chicken is new zealand. Darn dog didn’t only sniff out the chicken but $400NZD FINE AS WELL

pesach

can they pull your ge for life if they catch you with a fruit?

Leah

Same thing happened to me and my husband 6 years ago on the way home from Isreal via EWR, had a fruit that was given to us on the plane. was Fined $500 and agent claimed its a bargin since the fine can be more.
Next time my husband traveled he found out that he lost global entry, for many times after that incident he was taken into Customs control to have all bags searched since they had in their records that he lied to customs once, but lately it was not anymore an issue.
He also tried to apply again for GE and was rejected for a past violation of customs (fruit),
Can’t ever get GE back? No statue of limitations?

David

When I had my interview for GE many years ago (>5), they had a record of my taking the AF first class kosher breakfast off the plane (I had slept through so they gave it to me to take) years prior to that when I connected through LAX. Had to throw away entire meal with the china it was plated on. Given a big lecture at that GE interview years later on never ever bringing any meat or fruit into the US or GE would be taken away. I was impressed they had on record something from years earlier that I had forgotten long ago.

Lia

My husband took a package of sushi with him to the gate in Toronto intending to eat it before his flight. Customs asked if he was bringing any fruit into the country, to which he answered no. He was planning on eating his sushi at the gate. They explained that once you pass customs you are in the USA and threatened to take away his TSA pre check over the SLICE OF LEMON DECORATION inside his sushi!

Ron

My wife and I had the same experience at JFK. The dog sat down right next to her. Out came the banana, and a walk to the biohazard dumpster. Fortunately, my wife had a medical statement that she was a diabetic and had the medicine and kit to support our claim. No penalty, but every time the dog did another r loop of the airport, it sat down right next to her. So yes, it could have been us as well.

Alexander

On a flight back to Israel, I took a few plums and peaches from the Dan Club before boarding in case I wanted a snack on the flight. I totally forgot about the fruit. When I filled out the form, I answered that I was not bringing any fruit or vegetables in. When I got to the agent, I was randomly selected to have my carry on bag and suitcase to be scanned. They were scanned, nothing was detected and that was that. Two weeks later, I was looking for something that I had in my carry on. I put my hand in a side zippered pocket and felt mush. It was my fruits that had gone undetected!

Alexander

A few years ago my son before boarding went to Aroma and ordered for the plane an egg omelette sandwich and a cream cheese sandwich. He ate the cream cheese sandwich and slept the whole flight. When he got to customs, he filled out the form and said he wasn’t bringing in fruits and vegetables. They opened his bags and it turned out Aroma had put a tomato on the egg omelette sandwich. He told them he doesn’t eat tomatoes which was true and the agent reprimanded him for 15 minutes before letting him go. Innocent mistake which could’ve been costly!

Alexander

I was once online when an agent asked an older couple in front of me if they were bringing in fruits and vegetables. The husband said that they had 2 peaches but that they threw them out at the garbage immediately after descending the escalator. The agent had the old man walk back to the garbage to retrieve the peaches!

GTR

I brought beef jerky into Thailand from Hong Kong. When I noticed the sign at Thai customs that appeared to forbid animal products from entering the country (classic picture of a ham, a chicken drumstick, etc) I decided to be safe and ask the agents if the beef jerky was okay – I’d rather not spend a night in a Thai prison for some jerky. The agents laughed at me and allowed me to pass.

lostinCA

just got GE approval.
the officer was very clear & blunt, one slip up and you’re out.
TSA’s take is we’re giving u a special privilege, you need to keep your side of the bargain.
IMHO, they are 100% right about this.
the medfly is a crop destroying billions in damages to agriculture, and countries are very vigilant about it.
if u slip up, they are right.

yosel

the question is “do you have Food” etc. So i always answer yes, and the officer will ask me, what i have and i say, sandwiches, pretzel , and so on……. how about fruits? thay would ask, and we say, NO. or Yes if we have and hand it over to them.
all it take is a mere 45 seconds

mn

I saw that someone said Canada lets you bring in fruit – well I had a different experience.
When I was coming back from Israel I had some cut up watermelon and grapes that I planned on eating on the flight. I still had some left when we landed – so I declared it. They made me go to a separate screening and confiscated it – they told me if I hadn’t declared it I could’ve gotten a big fine!

Steven

I kinda had the same situation. I went to the GE kiosk and clicked no to everything. Then i realized i had an apple in my bag and told the customs agent. He sent me along to the a closed room where they asked for my info. Then they x-ray my luggage and let me go. Pretty painless as long as you say your upfront with them about it.

Fenstermacher

Thanks foot the post. Now I understand why I, of all incoming passengers to Cartagena this Sunday, was asked to place my luggage thru the scanner.
I brought in lots of cy cheese and declared’yes’ for food.
Bags were scanned without another word and I was left, about 10 seconds later.
Was wondering why the ‘special treatment.’
This post answered, I think, my puzzlement

DZ the Telzer

I flew with my sister from LGA to Montreal. Before we departed, I picked up a schnitzel sandwich for her to eat on the plane. Once aflight, she completely forgot about the sandwich inside her hand luggage waiting to be eaten! Sure enough when we got to Customs in Montreal, the guy looked at our card which was checked off as having no meat. He asked us if we had any, and my sister said that she actually forgot that she had a chicken sandwich that she didn’t get a chance to eat on the plane.
He started to give us a whole speech that we could be fined and lose our Nexus. Half-jokingly, I said it says meat and what we brought in was chicken. He told us, “ So you don’t wait 6 hours between chicken and milk.” Ouch, I think he enjoyed that he told us that line, for he then said, “OK, you can go.” He even let us keep the sandwich and bring it into Montreal. (I guess there are Jewish border guards in Montreal YUL airport.)

Work-for-ur-muny

Thanks for the update, although the implications of this on others is practically nothing. Just wondering if you felt that declaring what you declared circumvented the whole gain you gained from having GE status, or is it still faster even though you had to put your stuff through X-ray?

yankel

so there are some compassionate people left. very heartwarming

AR

We were traveling back from israel with 4 young kids. I had brought a,bunch of snacks with us for the flight, including fruit (i think apples). It took us a really ling time to get off the plane with all of our car seats and carryons and by the time we did everyone was long through customs so it was totally empty so of course they scanned all of our bags and found the fruit. This is going back quite a few years so im not sure if i didnt know it was an issue or just forgot to take them out (probably the latter). Luckily they just scolded us and took them away. Never made that mistake again.

Shaul Yaakov

Just flew back from Europe into JFK T4, declared food on the Mobile passport app, agent did not ask to scan mobile passport or ask any questions about it. Customs didn’t ask for anything in order to exit baggage claim either. Not sure if the lighter security is new or if it was a fluke.

Arty

I just came home from a “day” trip to Bermuda. On my way back home at customs (in Bermuda) the border control customs agent asked if I had any fruit, I realized I had an apple which I had brought with me from America. I told him about the apple. The customs agent asked me if the apple had the sticker on it which it did (gala USA) and he let me and the apple go through. Not sure if Bermuda is lenient…

Samy

Which Oreos are Pas Yisroel?

jack

Maybe if everyone starts declaring random food then the US Customs.. will change the language in the form and make you declare only thing that pose a risk

Work-for-ur-muny

Why would they change? It won’t make them work any harder, it’ll only make your line longer.

jack

If you declare something you cant bring in and they take it away can they take away your GE?

Sam

Don’t they sell kosher Smirnoff Ice in the US?

David

Ive brought in many different types of fruits and vegetables, Ive been stopped and have never been fined or lost my Global Entry and why is that? I know what to bring in, it’s all listed on the website AND I DECLARE IT. Not declaring something gets most people in trouble.

Jack

Do you need to declare food you bought in the us (and happen to be bringing the leftovers back into the county?)

don

why cant you dispute the fine on your cc/ what would happen if you did and you were successfull

Molly Ratner

A few years ago, at JFK returning from Israel, I had filled out the declaration card and checked off “food” cuz I had bought chocolate bars in Israel.
A sniffer dog was hovering around us in the baggage area and his handler marked something on our card.
The customs guy found an apple my husband had in his carry-on and said that had I not checked off “food” we would have been fined $300.

A few years before that, altho this has nothing to do about food, driving into Canada at the Champlain border, I had forgotten my passport but figured my driver’s license would suffice. It didn’t…and they told me to park and go into the office. The agent there asked where I was born and I told her that in fact I was born in Edmundston, NB, one of the Maritime provinces.
She: Oh yeah, then what is the main industry of Edmundston?
Me: I left when I was 3 yrs old but I believe it is the paper mill.
She: What street did you live on?
Me: 43 Canada Road—my family had a store there.
She: Name the store!
Me: Jack I Hutman and sons
She: I used to shop there—OK! you can go

Debbie

I got pulled aside a number of years ago returning from Israel because I had roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds in my bag. They made me throw them away (no fine) because they were “seeds” even though they were roasted and wouldn’t germinate. Now as a Global Entry member I seem to upset them by declaring the pre-packaged cheese as a dairy item. They don’t make me go through secondary inspection; they just ask what I declared.

Zalman

I flew in from tlv to ewr this sunday. While waiting at the carousel, tge dog stopped by the guy near me. The agent asked him if he has any food, hr answered no. The agent then asked if ge used the suitcase for food in the past 3 days to which he answered yes. The agent walked on….

fritz

Palau? is that a city or a country? just kidding, if I really wanted to know Iwould just google it, but I guess you just did your part of telling your friends………..

Bananas

Did she also get back her apple?

David

I fly a lot international and usually try not to have food if I dont need to, I was at a Tish in Israel and got a apple from the Rebbe that I wanted to bring home to my family, i declared food and got my suitcases (it was at JFK had and went through customs before getting to the carousel) agent came over to me without a dog, took me aside for screening and lo and behold opened myhand luggage and only thing there was the apple, told me its not allowed, he took my passport and the apple and told me to wait, cam back 5 minutes later and told me I can go, must have called back and sked what I filled out on the form but they have a sense or something to know when you have something, havent been stopped since then.

d

Reading comments I was reminded about and old story that happened to me – had an apple flying from Canada, before GE was a thing. Was stopped and sent to secondary and ate my apple while waiting. Agent was not happy but let me go when my turn came without any consequences…

Another one happened with GE – on a mile run to Bahrain I took with me from use a small box of baby carrots. Of course they stayed in the bag for the entire time. I am confident they had dogs hidden somewhere on the way because I was singled out on exit and question 5-6 times if I had any food. Having completely forgotten about carrots I answered “no”. I was read in the face when he pulled the box out of my bag. Completely prepared to say goodbye to GE. Agent told that I could lose my GE for this and I answered “i know , i screwed up”. I think my contrition soothed him and he let me go with a warning.

zow

Dan, I’m sure others have made this point, but I want to highlight that the wording of question 11A on the US Customs form makes it very easy to miss the general category of “food.” They specifically mention fruits and vegetables in the first part of 11A, and later in the list they bury the all-encompassing general term “food.” Similarly, 11B asks about “meats,” which would already have been qualified as “food.” It’s poorly written, which contributes to tired travelers not answering properly.

Cappy from CB

Buried? It reads: Fruits, Vegetables, Plants, Seeds, Food, Insects. It’s six words, most of them short words at that.

Josh

I also had this problem in December. I had received an apple from a Rebbe and put it my suitcase for my wife to make an apple kugel. This was also my first time using global entry and I was stopped and searched. He warned me about the fine and losing status but merely confiscated it.

Dovid Schurder

A number of years ago I flew EWR-TLV on chol HaMoed Succos. On arrive in TLV customer took my lulav and Esrog away from me.

On another occasion I flew from the UK to Havana, Cuba on business, for a 10 day trip. I took with me airline style frozen meals supplies by Hermolis in London. They provided me with a health inspection certificate, which I had notified the Cubans I had, and was assured it would be OK. Upon arrival I was pulled aside and the whole lot was incinerated in front of me. I receyan apology the next day, but had to survive with beer and bananas for 10 days.

sasha

Hey Dan,
I always declare having food ( lotsa of cookies ) and the custom officer will ask what kinda of food I have. I tell him what I have and he waived me thru without issue. Always be truthful.

But back to the woman, I am glad someone set things right. It was an honest mistake.

Yaakov D

I had several packs of meat discarded at customs in Liberia, Costa Rica, but they allowed us to keep hot dogs and deli. The took steak, burgers, and raw chicken. Frustrating but no consequences b”H. Flight was JFK to LIR 2 years ago

J R

Yes. Was accidentally caught with 1 orange I picked up in a London lounge and planned on eating on the plane. When I arrived in Phoenix I went through G E and declared I had fruit (dates from Israel). They still wanted to inspect my bag. Found the 1 orange – fined me $500 and revoked my G E. Interesting, the agent even said G E is now not worth it because the lines are longer.

Does anyone know where I can fight the fine? The government need to spend more time looking for drugs or human trafficking rather than one orange.

wpDiscuz