(NEXSTAR) – Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were forced to destroy two “cakes” of cow dung that were found in a suitcase at Washington Dulles International Airport on April 4.
“That is not a typo,” the CBP wrote in Monday news release announcing the find.
The cow dung cakes, which were left behind by a passenger on an Air India flight, are traditionally used as a source of fuel for cooking or heating in some parts of the world, according to the CBP. “Cow dung has also been reportedly used as a skin detoxifier, an antimicrobial, and as a fertilizer,” the agency noted.
Agriculture specialists with the CBP eventually destroyed the cakes, as cow dung originating in India poses the potential for spreading Foot and Mouth Disease. Cow dung brought in from outside the United States, meanwhile, may be permitted depending on its country of origin and the likelihood for introducing a threat to U.S. livestock populations, a representative for the CBP confirmed.
“Foot and Mouth Disease is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most, has grave economic consequences, and it is a critical threat focus of Customs and Border Protection’s agriculture protection mission,” said Keith Fleming, Acting Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, in a news release issued on Monday. “CBP’s agriculture specialists are our nation’s frontline protectors of vital agricultural and natural resources that help keep our nation’s economy strong and robust.”
Aside from cow dung, CBP officers in the U.S. intercept more than 3,000 prohibited plant, meat, soil or animal byproduct materials on a “typical” day, according to data based on the 2020 fiscal year. Still, the discovery of cow dung cakes isn’t something most officers see every day.
“It’s not a common occurrence,” a spokesperson for the agency confirmed.