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November 16, 09

NEWS / CBP Officers in Miami Confiscate Prohibited Sweet Potatoes Wrapped as Candy

Miami - With the holidays around the corner more people are traveling to their native countries to visit with family and friends to share in holiday traditions and enjoy the food items typical to their culture. These travelers are eager to come home and bring back some of those food and fruit items that might seem harmless but could pose a menace to our agriculture and/or their health.

On November 7, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted 18 fresh sweet potatoes from a passenger arriving at Miami International Airport from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. After a thorough search of passengerís luggage agriculture specialists were surprised when they discovered small fresh sweet potatoes that were neatly wrapped in commercial candy wrappers and disguised as a popular Bolivian candy.

The passenger did not declare the sweet potatoes as accompanying items in their baggage, therefore, the passenger was issued a $300 civil penalty in violation of 7 CFR 319.56 and the sweet potatoes were seized and destroyed under CBP supervision.

According to 7 CFR 319.56, fresh sweet potatoes from Bolivia are prohibited from entering the United States. Sweet potato tubers are known to host a wide range of soil borne pathogens like Streptomyces ipomoeae, which

causes soil rot, a destructive scab disease of the sweet potato plant and other pests like Spartocera batatas (Fabricius), a type of weevil known commonly as giant sweetpotato bug.

ďOur specialists and officers are among the best in the nation, they take great pride and produce significant results in the performance of their duties,Ē said Harold Woodward, director of Field Operations for Customs and Border Protection in Miami.




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