On April 5, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Washington Dulles International Airport found charred bat meat in the luggage of a Germantown man who arrived from Ghana, the agency said in a press release on Thursday.
Bat is considered bushmeat— raw or minimally processed meat that originates from wild animals in certain regions of the world including Africa and may be potentially harmful. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bushmeat is illegal to import to the United States and bats are known vector species for zoonotic diseases, such as Ebola.
CBP officials seized the bat meat and provided it to the CDC for further examination.
CBP agriculture specialists also found 12 pounds of tetrapleura, eggplants, and turkey berries in the man’s luggage. Officials seized and destroyed the prohibited fruit and released the traveler, the agency said.
“Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists play a very challenging frontline role in protecting the public, our nation’s agricultural industries, and our economic vitality every day against the deliberate or accidental introduction of potentially crippling animal diseases that may be carried in passenger baggage,” said Daniel Escobedo, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington, D.C. “CBP strongly encourages all international travelers to know what they can and cannot pack in their baggage before visiting the United States.”
On an average day in 2021, agriculture specialists across the United States seized 4,552 prohibited plants, meats, animal byproducts, and soils, CBP said.
The most common prohibited agricultural products airport officials find in travelers’ baggage are fruits, bushmeat, traditional meat dishes from family overseas, sandwiches or pizza from airport concessions, and propagative plants, according to CBP. You can find a full list of inadmissible products here.