I just came back from Amsterdam with a small block (about a pound) of local cheese that I bought in Haarlem. The shop vacuum sealed it for me and put it in a bag with the receipt. It went in my carry-on.
Note: At Schipol I was so concerned they might take away my cheese that I forgot to remove a can of shaving cream from my bag. That landed me in the bag search line. So remember to remove all fluids.
I strongly recommend declaring it at customs. It took an extra 10 seconds for them to ask me what kind of food I had. Best to just be honest upfront and avoid a possible fine.
My mom brings cheese back from France frequently. She declares it and tells them what it is if they ask. Vacuum sealing hasn’t come up in the past. I don’t think cheese from Holland will be handled any differently than cheese from France. The customs people are mainly concerned about non-aged unpasteurized whole milk cheese (eg. Camembert).
Her cheese purchases have been noticed a few times by the sniffer dogs. I call them cheese beagles. 🙂 The handler will ask to see the cheese, but won’t take legal ones.
A cheese shop in a big city may be able to vacuum seal purchases for you.
If you take it along with you declare it as dairy, that way worst case scenario they will just take it away from you. If you don’t declare it they might charge you a $800 US fine for bringing a dairy product into the country and not declaring it.
Your source is confirmed by the US embassy in the Netherlands :
Voedsel dat men kan meenemen naar de V.S : … Kaas (alleen vacuum verpakt en gepasteuriseerd; geen kazen gemaakt van rauwe melk). De meeste Nederlandse kazen zoals Goudse, Edammer en Leerdammer zijn toegestaan.
Foods that one can take to the US: … Cheese (only vacuum sealed, no raw milk cheeses). Most Dutch cheeses such as Gouda, Edammer and Leerdammer are allowed.
The most relevant restriction would be “vacuum sealed”. An Edammer cheese is small enough to be sold whole, and would be unlikely to be vacuum sealed. Gouda on the other hand is typically produced as a large wheel, and a wedge is often vacuum sealed.
There is a whole bunch of news articles w.r.t the cheese issue:
and the list goes on.
At issue is the cheese made from Raw/Unpasteurized Milk which is currently considered to pose a potential health risk based on the FDA/Health Canada Report and another one so the concern is that if the cheese is made from an unpasteurised milk it may not be allowed into the country even though the regulations (see tables 3-14-6, 3-14-7) don’t say anything about the hard cheeses to be disallowed.
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