Where Does Your Food Go When It's Confiscated at the Airport?

Anna Green

Customs agents at JFK International Airport in New York City confiscate anywhere from 400 to 600 pounds of fresh food every day from travelers entering the United States. Concerns about the spread of insects and bacteria mean that the United States puts strict limits on the organic matter that can be brought into the country. But where does all that confiscated food go?

Great Big Story answers that question in “Where Illegal Food Goes To Die,” going behind the scenes at JFK with U.S. Customs supervisor Ellie Scaffa, who describes the work that goes into disposing of huge quantities of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats—as well as the occasional death threats she’s received from angry travelers.

It turns out customs staff have a pretty labor-intensive process for managing the contraband foods people try to sneak into the country (and it doesn’t involve feasting on the fresh mangoes and avocados you brought back from your last tropical vacation). After throwing banned food into a contraband bin, customs employees have to cart it all the way to the opposite side of the terminal, where they chop it up and toss it into an industrial-strength grinder.

While watching all of those delicious fruits and veggies go down the drain might feel like a waste, Scaffa insists it's all in the name of protecting American agriculture. Check it out above.

[h/t: Grub Street]

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