FILE PHOTO: Snails are a delicacy in Ghana
FILE PHOTO: Snails are a delicacy in Ghana

US Customs intercepts snails in Ghanaian man's luggage

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Detroit Metropolitan Airport intercepted six Giant African Land Snails in a passenger's luggage on March 9, 2023.

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The U.S. CBP in a press release said the passenger, a Ghanaian national, claimed the snails were for consumption. 

The molluscs were immediately seized by CBP agents as they pose a significant risk to public health and the environment. 

Giant African Land Snails are known to eat over 500 different types of plants, including plaster and stucco, and can grow up to eight inches in length. The snails also carry a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans and produce up to 1,200 eggs annually.

Ghana snails caught

The intercepted snails

Although the passenger was released without further action, the incident highlighted the importance of strict inspection processes for goods arriving at US ports of entry. 

“It is not uncommon for travellers to bring food items from their native countries, which underscores the importance of the inspection process upon arrival to U.S. ports of entry,” Customs and Border Protection spokesman Steven Bansbach said. 

“This allows CBP officers and agriculture specialists the opportunity to determine whether these goods are permissible or not, while mitigating the potential for public health or environmental issues.”

CBP officers and agriculture specialists work diligently to detect potential threats and prevent harm to US interests, as highlighted by Port Director Robert Larkin. Giant African Land Snails are prohibited in Michigan and the rest of the United States.

“Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists work diligently to target, detect, and intercept potential threats before they have a chance to do harm to U.S. interests,” Port Director Robert Larkin said.

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