MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Four kilos of live snails from Italy en route to New Jersey were seized Friday at a Memphis port, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday.
The box of Italian snails shipped from the Sicilian city of Palermo was discovered with other food items after an X-ray inspection.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified the edible snails as Theba pisana or commonly known as the white garden snail or the Mediterranean snail along with other names. CBP said they are prohibited under organism restrictions.
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The species of mollusk is deemed as a serious pest due to its ability to rapidly aggregate, defoliate large trees, and spread infections to grain crops while eating them.
CBP said the snails were destroyed by steam sterilization under the supervision of CBP agriculture specialists.
“Judging from the plethora of Italian restaurants near the snail’s destination, they may have ended up on someone’s plate, but they were both a restricted organism and mis-manifested. U.S. laws need to be followed and my officers are there to vigilantly enforce them,” said Acting Area Port Director Michael R. Johnson.
CBP says on a typical day in Fiscal Year 2021, they have discovered 264 pests at U.S. ports and 2,548 materials for quarantine such as plants, meats, animal byproducts, and soil.