The Valentine’s Day flowers traditionally given to loved ones may be hiding a nasty or harmful surprise.
Before a bouquet of roses or tulips finds its way into the hands of your sweetheart, it must be checked for pests, insects, and plant diseases. This very unromantic task falls to members of the Customs and Border Patrol and Valentine’s Day makes for a very heavy workload.
An article by KCEN writes that Valentines Day marks the most popular time of year for flower sales. The millions of flowers imported into the country must be carefully inspected by agents. Using simple maneuvers such as shaking and banging, agents look for things like insects that are not native to the United States.
Assistant Port Director Juan Uribe commented on the reason agents are utilized for this type of inspection:
“Customs and Border Control agriculture specialists’ main point, at this point, other than the prevention of terrorists, or terrorist weapons, is to ensure that the agriculture of the United States is kept safe. How do we do that? By ensuring that no new pests are introduced into our country.”
The goal is to prevent the flowers imported from 30 countries around the world from harming plant life, floral industries and domestic agriculture. Last year over 842 million flowers were processed and inspected by agents nationwide with the three weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day among the busiest.
According to The Star-Ledger, the Port of New York and New Jersey alone inspected nearly 40 million imported flowers in 2012. Anthony Bucci, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Patrol, commented on the business of the season:
“We started seeing shipments of flowers arriving this Monday, and this will continue right up through Valentine’s Day.”