Truffle Troubles, Nationwide
While it’s legal to bring Italian truffles into the States, the rules surrounding their clearance can be disruptive to the food community. Mike Rojas, Food Service Director at Urbani Truffles, explains that all truffles travel as they’re found in the ground, which is to say, pretty dirty. During white truffle season, in the September to December months, Urbani imports three to four shipments per week of the rare mushrooms, about 500 pounds every seven days, and distributes them nationally.
“If they’re too dirty or if customs finds one bug, the truffles are incinerated or deported back to Italy or held at customs,” adding that this happens perhaps once a season. But when the average price of said white truffles can reach up to $2,000 per pound (these are sold in grams, remember), this can really affect the bottom line and other businesses. “It messes up things with restaurants and we have to deal with a lot of angry people,” Rojas added, nothing that in worst cases, thousands of dollars worth of truffles wont make it to the other side of the airport.