Cheese at Customs: Forever Cryovac

By Corby Kummer

Anyone who has had a sniffer beagle stop at a piece of luggage and sit obediently and patiently knows the dread of what's to come -- or rather, of what's to go. The one time it happened to me was when I forgot to throw out the leftovers of a prosciutto panino I'd bought to eat on the plane.

But I've brought in a lot of cheese over the years, including raw-milk cheese that violated the under-90-days-of-aging rule the USDA long had in place. As Jeffrey Steingarten wrote in an article in Vogue, you'll seldom be busted, and few inspectors know or care much about the rules (and try finding them! Four searches using different terms, on both the USDA and State Department sites, brought me back to this page, which leads no place cheesy.

And now visitors to China need to worry about importing any kind of cheese at all, as Jim Fallows writes in his blog. Baffling for the reasons he gives -- China is worried about the safety of our dairy products? That's rich -- and also personally worrying: that dogs are good at sniffing any kind of cheese. Guess I'll stick to my rule: get the store to seal it in Cryovac, then free the sweaty, imprisoned cheese and rewrap it in wax-coated paper as soon as you get home.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/03/cheese-at-customs-forever-cryovac/1515/