Where Does All That Confiscated Airport Food Go?

U.S. customs supervisor Ellie Scaffa says her life has been threatened over mangos. 

Great Big Story 

Where Does All That Confiscated Airport Food Go?

When illegal food enters JFK, it’s this customs officer’s job to destroy it, no matter how fresh and beautiful it looks

If you’ve ever wondered just what exactly happens to all the food that gets confiscated at the airport — and it’s a lot of food — here’s your first behind-the-scenes look at the final fate of all the food not fit to fly.

The team at Great Big Story visited a place in John F. Kennedy Airport known as “the grinder,” where an upsetting number of mangos and avocados, among other things, meet an untimely death. “I’ve been threatened by Haiti with voodoo over food,” says U.S. customs supervisor Ellie Scaffa. “I’ve taken mangoes from passengers from Jamaica and been threatened with my life.”

“The reason why we’re confiscating all this stuff is not because it’s harmful to human beings,” explains Scaffa. It’s harmful to our plants and our animals.”

Last month alone, JFK processed an estimated 400 to 600 pounds of confiscated food per terminal, according to Scaffa. Every day brings different kinds of produce, and holidays come with their own specialty foods. It’s deeply depressing, but it’s all in the name of protecting American agriculture.

Watch the video below to see a depressing amount of fresh produce get destroyed: 

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