Customs and Border Protection Officials Prohibiting Certain Fruits, Flowers for Valentine's Day

Customs and Border Protection Officials Prohibiting Certain Fruits, Flowers for Valentine's Day
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

PRESIDIO/OJINAGA - If you're looking to buy that special someone a Valentine's Day gift from across the border, you might want to think twice before bringing something back from Mexico. There are certain fruits and flowers that are not allowed past customs.

"We don't want any foreign diseases to come and infest any of our plants, or animals for that matter, that we have," U.S. Border and Customs Protection Agriculture Specialist, Andres Grado, said.

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed 867.2 million cut flowers.

"It's not necessarily for people's health. It's for plant and animal health," Grado said.

Agriculture specialists, like Andres Grado, are on the front line when it comes to intercepting these foreign insects or diseases.

"Whether it's citrus flowers, that's the main one we are actually looking for, any chrysanthemums, Choisya, Bells of Ireland, those are the biggest ones. Gladiolas are another one," Grado said.

Spotting what's called "rust" or foreign insects can help avoid potential harm to our economy and environment. Even popular Valentine's gifts like candied apples will be kept at customs.

"Even though they've been covered with candy, they are still fresh and they can still harbor the Mexican fruit fly," Grado said.

If the agriculture specialist eyes something questionable, there is a special digital photo process that's done to verify whether the insect or pathogen is allowed to enter the United States.

Grado says many flowers that are brought from Mexico are already arranged "customs-friendly." But just to be safe, let the florist know you will be taking the flowers across the border.

"Most of the florists in Mexico do know what is permissible and what is not, so they will prepare the arrangement accordingly," Grado said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to urge the public who are crossing the border to declare everything on their person. If anything is left out, it could result in a monetary penalty.

For more information on what you can and can't bring across the border, visit the CBP website at WWW.CBP.GOV.