Giant African snails confiscated from traveler at Detroit airport
Some of the biggest snails in the world have recently been found in the Detroit metro.
About the size of a human fist, giant African snails can measure up to 8 inches in length and 5 inches in width.
On March 9, US Customs and Border Protection seized six giant African snails at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) from a Ghanaian citizen, officials said.
Steven Bansbach, public affairs specialist for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Chicago Field Office, wrote in an email to the Detroit Free Press saying giant African snails are banned in the United States.
“Although they may appear harmless, giant African snails can harbor parasites that are dangerous to humans, and they have a voracious appetite for hundreds of native plant types,” Bansbach said. “Prohibited agricultural products can harbor plant pests and exotic animal diseases that could seriously damage U.S. crops, livestock, and the environment, with attendant economic consequences.”
He further wrote that giant African snails are often eaten and sometimes kept as pets in other countries.
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A press release from the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, said the snails were intended for consumption by the traveler and have since been confiscated for further analysis.
Bansbach said the snails were discovered when the traveler failed to disclose the contents of his luggage, requiring further inspection.
“Travelers are required to declare all meat, fruit, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, animals, as well as plant and animal products that they may be transporting,” he wrote.
Bansbach said CBP agriculture specialists often study these pests and assess their impact on US agricultural resources.
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Jeb Foods claims that the giant African snail is edible and an important source of protein. These snails are non-toxic and benefit people with high cholesterol and heart disease because they are comparable to egg protein. It is dangerous to eat snails raw and they must be cleaned and cooked before consumption to eliminate parasites and diseases.
However, despite a thorough cleaning process, snails can still carry disease. To stay as safe as possible, it is necessary to feed the snails properly to eliminate all traces of toxins before consuming them, according to WLRN radio.