If you’re traveling to the United States from another country, what you should do is fill out a form letting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (and U.S. Customs and Border Protection) know whether you have a couple of apples in your carry-on, or a package of prosciutto in your checked bag, or are otherwise transporting any fruit, vegetable, meat, or shellfish. What you shouldn’t do is cover an entire pig’s head with aluminum foil, shove it in your suitcase, and just hope for the best.
Last Thursday, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) K-9 smelled roasted meat inside a bag at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and alerted his handlers. When they unzipped that suitcase, they found a foil-wrapped roasted pig’s head, along with some terrifying-looking pork pieces that had been jammed inside two plastic water bottles.
The pig was seized and destroyed, which sucks for Hardy, the hard-working CBP beagle who found it. (Although that Very Good Boy deserves better than room-temperature suitcase meat.) “Our best defense against destructive pests and animal diseases is to prevent the entry of prohibited agriculture products from entering the United States,” Carey Davis, the CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Atlanta, said in a statement. “This seizure at ATL illustrate the tremendous expertise of our four-legged K-9 partners in protecting the United States."
According to the CBP, the roasted head accompanied a passenger who flew from Ecuador to Atlanta. Because everyone knows that after at least six hours on a plane, there’s nothing better than a big plate of suitcase pig. But even if it had been packed in a more aesthetically pleasing way, international travelers cannot bring pork or pork products into the U.S. because of the risks of foreign animal diseases, including foot and mouth disease, classical swine fever, and swine vesicular disease.
Perhaps the most confusing aspect of this story is that this person was going to Atlanta, where they do serve BBQ—and even whole hogs. Hopefully the CBP let him (or her) know where he could replace his Bag Pig with something even better.