Are those 450 illegal tamales in your pocket, uh, luggage; or are you just happy to see me?

I like tamales so I’m curious about what made the ones confiscated at LAX today so special that they were smuggled into the U.S.. And what food safety parameters they were being transported under.

According to USA Today, a traveler from Mexico was detained after authorities found 450 pork tamales in a suitcase.8d13067ed5bc1933880f6a7067005812

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that the traveler’s customs form acknowledged the person was carrying food, but the traveler lied when asked if there was any meat.

A search turned up the individually wrapped pork tamales. The CBP enforces federal regulations on importing meat, which carry disease risks.

The traveler was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty for commercial activity with the intent to distribute.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.