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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
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APHIS to Allow Back-Catering on Commercial Aircraft

Effective July 28, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is exercising its enforcement discretion to allow establishments to request approval to back-cater on foreign-origin commercial aircraft returning to a foreign country within 3 hours of arrival in the United States. Back-catering is the practice of allowing unconsumed food and meals uploaded at a foreign point of origin to remain onboard at a U.S. airport for consumption during the return trip to a foreign port.  

To back-cater, establishments must have an approved compliance agreement with APHIS and meet the following requirements:

  • Aircraft must depart directly to a foreign country from the United States within 3 hours of arrival in the United States.
  • Food storage units remaining on aircraft must remain in the galley; and have a secure, breakable seal placed prior to arrival in the US with identifiable information.
  • Food storage units with broken seals will be considered as APHIS regulated garbage and must be removed from the aircraft in accordance with APHIS regulated garbage handling requirements. 

APHIS is taking this action after determining that the measures above will mitigate the risks posed by back-catered meals. 

Establishments that want to back-cater may contact the local APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine or U.S. Customs and Border Protection representative to apply for a regulated garbage compliance agreement. Information on how to apply for a compliance agreement can be found on the APHIS Regulated Garbage website:

If you have any questions, please email them to

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