International food transit is a risk to public and animal health when not subject to legal importation sanitation procedures. Due to the extensive border area, illegal food import in Brazil is a common practice, especially in Rio Grande do Sul (RS), a state that borders with Argentina and Uruguay. The objective of this study was to evaluate the profile of Brazilians living in cities in RS that border with Argentina (BR-AR) or Uruguay (BR-UR) regarding the practice of illegal import of products of animal origin and to determine associations between the population characteristics and illegal import. A questionnaire with information related to the personal profile, habits of acquisition of imported food, and knowledge of health risks deriving from the consumption of the imported products was elaborated. The questionnaire was administered in six cities in RS (three cities bordering Argentina and three cities bordering Uruguay) and responses were obtained from 744 individuals. The variables city, sex, level of education, and knowledge were subjected to the chi-square test to verify the association between these variables and food import. Part of the interviewees admitted to illegally importing products of animal origin at both BR-AR (65.17%) and BR-UR (76.28%) borders. Dairy products were the main imported goods, followed by raw and processed meat. The study revealed that illegal import is common at the frontier region of RS, especially that of products of animal origin, dairy, and raw and processed meat. Although illegal importation occurs at all the cities under study, it was higher at the BR-UR border. Also, knowledge of the health risks influences the decision to import food or not.

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