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What Happens to Contraband Food Once It’s Been Confiscated?

What Happens to Contraband Food Once It’s Been Confiscated?

What happens to contraband food that gets seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection? No, CBP agents don’t eat it on their lunch breaks and no, they don’t simply toss it in a dumpster.  

U.S. customs supervisor Ellie Scaffa, who is basically the IRL Fruit Ninja, said John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) alone confiscated over 400 to 600 pounds of contraband food in just one terminal.

“I’ve been threatened…with voodoo over food. I’ve taken mangoes from passengers from Jamaica and been threatened…never a dull moment here in JFK,” Scaffa told Great Big Story.

Various types of food get tossed in the contraband bin: candy from China, salami from Spain and LOTS of avocadoes.

“The reason why we’re confiscating all this stuff is not because it’s harmful to human beings. It’s harmful for our plants and animals.”

Once a prohibited item is seized and place in a contraband bin, it makes its one-block journey across the terminal to meet its end in a grinding room. Customs officers first cut the fruit and vegetables to check for any insect entry/exit holes, and then it gets thrown in the grinder.

Scaffa enjoys the simple pleasures of confiscating food while battling the war against species one fruit at a time.

“Sometimes I go home with a little bit of mango juice and passion fruit juice on,” said Scaffa. “But this is what we have to do to protect the American agriculture.”


[Featured Image: YouTube/ Great Big Story]

View Comments (7)


  1. Jinxed_K

    June 21, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Reminds me of a story somebody told me.. his friend brought back a leg of parma ham from Italy and was going to have it confiscated, but supposedly the customs agents let him cut it up in the area between immigrations and customs and give out sandwiches to everyone who wanted one.
    Might as well eat it if they’re going to take it away.

  2. kkua

    June 24, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Like garbage from international flights, it’s supposed to be incinerated to kill all potential microbes from entering the region’s ecosystem. This is why diseases are more prevalent and easily spread these days

  3. Pmun

    June 24, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Why would candy from China be confiscated? It’s processed food.

  4. Bear4Asian

    June 24, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    “confiscated over 400 to 600 pounds of contraband food In one terminal”

    The story might have more impact if you tell us, e.g. “400 to 600 pounds” in what time period. 1 hour? a week? A month”

    Try writing something that makes sense.

  5. Matt4

    June 25, 2019 at 2:19 am

    These “protection” measures are no more than protectionism. The same food can be legally imported by companies with all the paperwork done AND PAYED TAXES but they just don’t allow us to bring it in our luggages…

  6. flyerCO

    July 9, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Those companies also are providing a known plant/animal product that has been grown in a known manner. The fruit or leg of ham on you theres no way of knowing.

  7. flyerCO

    July 9, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    The candy is beef candy is the issue

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