starter travel pack

wishfish's picture

I know this topic has been done before and I did try to search for it - unsucessfully... so, here goes...

I want to take part of my starter with me on a trip to the UK (from Panama) and I'm wondering the best way to do it. And has anyone ever had any problems with customs? What is the legality of travelling with a live culture?

294 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2012 September 15

About carrying plastic bags of white powder through customs. 

I don't think there is any law against transporting sourdough cultures across borders (I think even AQIS would let that through.  I think you have two options - place  some of your wet starter into a suitable sealed container or dry some of it out and place the dried material into a suitable sealed container - in your checked baggage.  Rehydrate/feed as normal when you get to where you are going.

If, perchance, your luggage is searched and you get a please explain, telling the truth and being prepared for a full body search would be a good starting point.  And although sourdough baking is demonstrably addictive, starter has little street value that I am aware of and maybe the worst punishment might be confiscation of your precious cargo.

Good luck with your travels.


Merrid 2012 November 28

I checked the AQIS site and yes, they said cultures to produce food for human consumption are pretty much OK to go through customs - and they specially stated that Saccharomyces, Candida and Lactobacillus species are included in that general OK, which should cover most of the sourdough beasties as well as bakers' and brewers' yeasts.

But since you're travelling from Panama to the UK, you might want to check the UK equivalent of their quarantine services for import restrictions, and probably also Panama's quarantine services for any export restrictions. That should let you know if you need to fill in any forms or make any declarations.

HopesHope 2012 November 27

If you have time, I would certainly dry some starter as it makes it easier to travel with.   Whatever you put your starter in clearly mark the container as being Sour Dough Yeast flakes, when they open the container if they should, they would smell it anyway.     Customs may want to possibly test it to ensure you are not hiding anything else within the flakes.  [just thinking about their suspicous minds is all]   But I think Farinham is right, all they will do is confiscate it.


I sent some SDY flakes to the States and clearly marked it what it was, and it took almost a whole month to cross the border.   Although we don't know for sure what took so long, but our guess is they tested it to see if it was all what I said it was, even though the plastic baggie was clearly marked and they could smell that it was yeast flakes.     At the end, the friend received the package.




Have a good trip!

shasta's picture
shasta 2012 November 28

Dry is the best way I think but it will take 4 days or so to get it up and going with any volume again.

Have a safe trip!

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