This Is What Happens to Food Confiscated at the Airport

If you've ever tried sneaking jamón ibérico (delicious ham made from Iberian pigs) from Spain or Portugal in your suitcase, then there's a good chance you've shed a salty cured tear after being forced to surrender the world-famous pork product -- or other foods from abroad -- to US Customs. But what the hell happens to all of that perfectly good food when it's tragically taken at the airport? A new video from the folks at Great Big Story goes behind the scenes at New York's JFK airport to find out. The answer is kind of sad.

In the video, US Customs supervisor Ellie Scaffa explains that confiscating the food items -- everything from Chinese beef candy to peppers from Guyana -- is meant to protect the plants and animals of America's agriculture industry from foreign, and potentially harmful, insects and bacteria that regularly hitch a ride to the States in, say, an avocado from Haiti. Hundreds of pounds of the illegal food items are sent to die via something called "the grinder," and, well, you get the picture. 

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and, luckily, can bring delicious NYC bagels home to his family in Chicago without consequence. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.