Some of the world’s largest snails were recently found in metro Detroit.
The size of a human fist, giant African land snails can grow up to 8 inches in length and 5 inches in width.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized six giant African snails at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) from a citizen of Ghana on March 9, officials said.
Steven Bansbach, Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Chicago Field Office, wrote in an email to the Detroit Free Press saying giant African snails are prohibited in the U.S.
“Although they may appear to be harmless, giant African snails may harbor parasites dangerous to humans and they have a voracious appetite for hundreds of types of native plants,” Bansbach said. “Prohibited agricultural items can harbor plant pests and foreign animal diseases that could seriously damage America’s crops, livestock, and the environment, along with accompanying economic consequences.”
He further wrote giant African snails are often consumed and sometimes kept as pets in other countries.
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A news release to 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 meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, animals, as well as plant and animal products they may be carrying,” he wrote.
Bansbach said CBP agriculture specialists often study these pests and assess their impact on U.S. agricultural resources.
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Jeb Foods says the giant African snail can be consumed and is a strong source of protein. These snails are not poisonous and benefit those with high cholesterol and heart disease as they are comparable to egg protein. It is unsafe to eat snails raw and they should be cleaned and cooked before consumption to eliminate parasites and diseases.
However, despite a thorough cleaning process, snails could still carry diseases. To stay as safe as possible it’s necessary to feed the snails properly to rid any trace of toxins before consuming them, according to WLRN radio.