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Thread: Traveling with dried fruits and seeds internationally

  1. #1
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    Traveling with dried fruits and seeds internationally

    I am preparing for a 3-week trip to Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, & Greece. For a couple reasons (fending off migraines and a peanut/nut allergy that keeps me on my toes while traveling) I would like to pack a large bag of trail mix (cranberries, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and possibly other dried fruits). I know I can probably replenish this stash of food midway through my trip, but I am wondering at what point I would encounter customs barriers. I also know that I can navigate Greek food with my nut allergy. I am less certain about Croatia and Bosnia.

    I know that there are limits to fresh produce and meats traveling across borders. Does this apply to dried fruits, seeds, and nuts? Does anyone else have experience packing a stash of food for their multi-week travels?

    Than

  2. #2
    Registered User jannilee's Avatar
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    I have not had problems with dried fruits or nuts but seeds can be a different matter. What about making very fruit and nut dense bars. Then everything would be cooked and definitely no prob. For my trip to Turkey i made a big batch of granola bars. They got me through sulfite loaded situations.

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    The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization is a great resource for all people who need to manage food allergies. They have a page on their website with travel information and links to additional resources. I believe most dried fruit, especially in sealed packages, should be ok as it is considered processed food (and not plants with seeds which could spread disease), and generally there is also a weight limit of 1 or 2 kg per person. Your airline may be able to help you with specifics for your country of entry. Also, in Europe food is well labeled, not only for allergens, but cross contact during manufacturing & processing so it may be possible to go to a supermarket & find additional supplies while traveling. Have a great & safe trip.

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    Sounds risky and troublesome especially if you don't speak the local language. I can't speak for the countries you mention but even between BFF 4ever countries USA and Canada there are hundreds of confusing restrictions like I can't bring back Florida oranges and Georgia Peaches to Canada because they aren't native to Canada, I can't bring back onions because they ARE native to canada and can carry pests, and for the gold, (Maui gold?) I couldn't bring a Hawaiian pineapple bought in Canada to the US. I have seen someone try and the person at customs told them that Hawaii wasn't part of the United States. By the time I cleared customs the argument of the border guard had backtracked to "Hawaii is sorta kinda part of the US but not really. And then there is going to Hawaii which seems especially militant about anything that could possibly live/grow there which is totally understandable seeing as they have been ravaged by invasive species both accidentally and deliberately introduced.

    If you must the best bets are probably well labeled, unopened commercially packaged goods the glossier the package the better, sad to say but the less it looks like actual viable plant matter the easier it will be to pass through.

    If you are not 100% sure it is allowed, because let's face it the people who write government brochures and websites usually don't speak the language of the common man just declare it, it is better to be told it was ok and be waved through than chance being detained or fined for falsifying you declaration.

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    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    Roasted nuts and seeds are considered processed.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

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    I haven't had to carry large amounts of snacks, but I had no trouble getting into the US with dried fruit and roasted nuts - as monkeylady says, they've been processed so they're non-viable. If you stick to these, preferably in their original packaging so that it doesn't look like you might have mixed in something illicit, you should be safe. Not sure about pumpkin seeds, but if you can get some kind of roasted mix, that should be safe too.

    Also, if you don't already have one, prepare a card with "I'm allergic to peanuts" in the relevant languages. I suspect the link that giantsteve posted will have such things, as they've become literal life-savers. And as he says, food in the EU is thoroughly labelled for allergens. This causes us much amusement when packets of nuts are labelled "May contain nuts". No $#!^, Sherlock! *lol*
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    Just be sure to declare any food you end up bringing anything back to the U.S. They have been cracking down on really minor violations like this, and it can lead to having one's Trusted Traveler status revoked, or being barred from acquiring it in the future.
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    I believe the concern is around seeds that can be planted and grown. You should be fine with your trail mix, including the pumpkin seeds.

    Being a vegetarian, I generally pack dry fruit and sometimes bars just in case the airline screws up my meal request.

    Coming back into the US, you want to declare that you have food. I almost always bring back chocolates, and was once told by an immigration officer that I didn't need to declare them since they are allowed. So after that, I started writing no to that answer. On a subsequent trip, when asked by the immigration officer if I had foods, I responded yes, but just chocolates and cookies. They then sent me off to the second level customs screening, and the customs officer indicated that even though certain foods may be brought in, they must still be declared.

    So since then, I always write yes to that question, tell the immigration officer what I am bringing in, and I'm on my way.

    By the way, that customs officer also fussed over an Odwalla bar I was carrying. I had forgotten to mention that I had it. It was one of those emergency food items, in the side pocket of my Aeronaut, and she found it as opened every last pocket and pouch. I explained that I carry emergency food when I travel, and I forgot about it. I even mentioned that I bought it at the Whole Foods here in Virginia, and that Odwalla Bars are made in the US.

    She also inquired about receipts I had amongst my travel papers. I had purchased something on a previous trip, several months back, and she wanted to know what that was for (I think trying to ascertain whether I had declared everything I was bringing in to determine whether a duty should be assessed). She even asked why I was carrying multiple currencies - I usually keep some Euros, Pounds, and Rupees. I generally just hold on to whatever currency I have left - I don't exchange it back. And this stays in my travel wallet. I have some currency with me for the next time - whether I'm traveling through that country or just laying over. Plus, flights get canceled, and you can end up getting rerouted through some country you hadn't planned on traveling through. So it's convenient to keep multiple currencies with you.

    She asked about various other things - I don't recall all of it now. I guess they come across all sorts of people. I think they look more at how you respond more so than what your response is to a given question.

    In a way, it's fun having your bags opened up by customs or security. I enjoy the reaction that a well organized Tom Bihn bag illicits in those situations!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scribe View Post
    Also, if you don't already have one, prepare a card with "I'm allergic to peanuts" in the relevant languages. I suspect the link that giantsteve posted will have such things, as they've become literal life-savers.
    Like Scribe mentions, "chef cards" are a valuable tool to communicate your food allergy needs to the staff of a restuarant. There are several companies including SelectWisely who sell laminated cards for specific needs available in many languages.

    Also, don't forget to travel with your Epi-pen auto injectors (the only reliable life saving treatment in case of an anaphylactic food allergy reaction) and take a copy of your doctor's prescription and a letter explaining why you need to carry this device.

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    Thank you everyone! Your responses have given me a bit more peace of mind about my travels.
    I had not thought of making or bringing granola bars, that is a great idea. They would be less likely to spill in the luggage. I will definitely be making the "allergy cards" and learning how to say it in the pertinent languages. If I travel enough I'll know the word for nuts in every language. I don't know how I have never heard of the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization, but I will be visiting their page. Thank you.

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    If you do want to bring trail mix, I might recommend keeping each component separately - it's a bit of a hassle, but that way, if they decide there's an issue with, let's say, the pumpkin seeds, then you can get rid of those while still holding onto the rest.

    Also, I had my trail mix confiscated before. It was when crossing the border between Argentina and Chile - Chile is quite strict about produce entering the country, and they decided that the dried fruit in my trail mix was not allowed. So that does happen sometimes...

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    One belated response to this thread...Definitely, I would reiterate the importance of knowing how to pronounce the phrase indicating a particular food allergy. For example, when I visited Thailand I had a laminated card indicating a peanut allergy, but in certain areas not everyone could read. Being able to say the phrase was essential. This might be a non-issue in many urban areas, but I was definitely glad I had practiced the pronunciation in advance of my trip.

    Also, I have one recommendation for a tasty fruit only snack bar I tried recently that does not contain any nuts: That's It bars. They contain 2 kinds of fruit and no added sugar, and they have been a life saver as snacks on some recent trips.
    Last edited by NWhikergal; 07-16-2014 at 09:24 PM.

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    To this recommendation for fruit bars I can also add One Bars. They are made of crushed fruit without wheat or nuts. Baobab and inulin are added - I think baobab is supposed to be a new superfood.

    Please keep the nut-free recommendations coming.

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    I'll second that knowing how to say that you have a certain food allergy is the first thing you should learn in every local language. Even that isn't enough. "I'm allergic to soy." "Oh, don't worry." "What's this in the dish you served me?" "Tofu."

    Secondly, you should go under the assumption that anything and everything that looks like seed, nut, fruit, or berry will be confiscated, roasted or not, pre-packaged or not. I've had a buckwheat-hull pillow confiscated many years ago going into Australia. Didn't even cross my mind that it was contraband.

    I'm not saying that they will, but that you should be prepared and not relying on that for food with no other option. Make sure you've got "safe" good that is beyond reproach as a backup until you can safely restock.

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