Dates can carry diseases and insects potentially catastrophic to U.S. agriculture
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists assigned to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) discovered 200 pounds of fresh dates inside plastic baskets that a passenger, arriving from Qatar, was carrying as accompanying luggage.
On August 21, CBP agriculture specialists referred a passenger to agricultural secondary for examination. During the secondary inspection the traveler provided a verbal declaration on carrying fresh dates from Saudi Arabia. CBP agriculture specialists discovered and seized ten plastic baskets containing approximately 20 pounds of the fruit in each.
"CBP agriculture specialists play an active role in protecting the U.S. agriculture industry and I applaud the efforts that lead to this important discovery. The introduction of foreign pests and plant diseases, even if accidental, is a significant threat to American agriculture with potentially severe consequences to our nation's farming industry and economy," said Carlos Martel CBP acting director of field operations in Los Angeles.
CBP reminds travelers that fresh dates (fruit palm) from Qatar and Saudi Arabia are prohibited into the United States due to the possibility of disease and insect infestation. The planthopper species, mites, and scale insects are considered pests of palm trees and their fruit. The introduction of any of these insects into the United States agriculture would be financially catastrophic.
CBP agriculture specialists use their extensive education and expertise to protect American agriculture and the food supply by preventing the introduction of harmful pests, plant and animal diseases, and biological threats.
In fiscal year 2009, CBP agriculture specialists seized more than 1.5 million prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 166,727 agricultural pests at ports of entry.