A man has been stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from trying to import 32 pounds of African rat meat.
According to a report by the Daily Mail, the meat has been seized and destroyed by customs to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in the United States.
Per the article, the man arrived in the U.S. from Ivory Coast on June 26 and declared that he was carrying African rat meat. Shortly after, customs agents thoroughly inspected the meat and decided on the spot that it could not be carried inside the country.
It is a standard practice among border control agents to prohibit the entry of African meats into the U.S. so as to prevent the spread of African swine fever.
Since the man did not try to dodge the authority or use any illegal means to import the meat, he was not detained and was allowed to continue traveling as normal.
Although African swine fever does not pose any threat to human beings — according to the Department of Agriculture — the disease is viral in nature and highly contagious among pigs.
The department further detailed that the disease has never affected pig populations in the U.S., and there is no vaccine available to prevent its spread.
A man tried to import several pounds of African rat meat in the U.S. after flying into O’Hare International Airport. https://t.co/J78n78WBe6
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) July 3, 2019
It is worth noting that the U.S. does not prohibit bringing meat to the country — however, restrictions are imposed if travelers are coming from certain countries or regions.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, restrictions are imposed on certain food products — cheese, meat, and fruits, among others — in order to “protect community health, preserve the environment and prevent the introduction of devastating diseases to domestic plants and animals.”
It is also necessary to declare all food items at customs. Those who do not comply could be liable to pay fines up to $10,000.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, African swine fever is a highly contagious, viral disease that not only affects pigs, but could also result in serious economic and production losses.
The disease has affected scores of pigs in different parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, and Asia.
ASF is spread when healthy pigs come directly in contact with infected domestic or wild pigs. The disease can also spread through indirect contact, for instance, through ingestion of contaminated food or material. The disease can also be transmitted through biological vectors.