Santa Claus Is Public Enemy No. 1

Since all imports must comply with U.S. Customs regulations, Santa’s activities are cause for both alert and action, especially as the number of gift-hungry American children grows.


ChemInfoSanta Claus should be at the top of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) naughty list. He has broken almost every rule in the book, and violated numerous food, drug, facility registration and import laws, regulations and standards over the years as he has illegally imported millions of dollars worth of merchandise to children in the United States, albeit as gifts.

Since all imports coming into the United States must comply with United States Customs regulations, Santa’s activities every December 24th are cause for both alert and action, especially as the number of gift-hungry American children grows each year. 

I feel bad for the guy. Nobody wants to poo-poo on his gift-giving and good cheer, but he needs to realize that the FDA’s going to come after him at some point.

There are three primary ways that Santa Claus’ activities would likely be targeted by the FDA and its risk-based screening system — PREDICT:

  1. Undeclared food, drug and cosmetic imports. Many children request edible gifts for Christmas, such as chocolate or candy; others request cosmetic products, including make-up kits or lip gloss. By bringing these products into the United States and failing to have them undergo proper FDA screening and inspection, Santa is, in fact, out of compliance, no matter how big or small the quantity. They call that smuggling, folks.
  2. Facility registration and inspection. It’s a known fact that, at the North Pole, Santa employs thousands of workers, and operates a series of factories and warehouses — many of which produce food products, beverages, medical devices (such as kids sunglasses) and pet chews, or involve hazardous chemicals in production (such as with plastics). These facilities must be properly registered with the FDA, as well as have a U.S. agent with whom the FDA can correspond regarding the safety of the products and inspection of these facilities. After a rigorous search of the FDA’s data systems, it is apparent that, at the current time, none of Santa’s overseas manufacturing plants are registered with the FDA.
  3. Labels and packaging. With 2.2 billion children in the world receiving at least one gift per Christmas, one can imagine how many packages and labels accompany the gifts, and what kinds of claims, ingredients and instructions must be present. Gifts received by 59 million American children (62,889,723 children – 5 percent naughty = 59,745,237) must all have compliant labels and packaging, especially the claims and statements on products like candy, cosmetics or medical devices, which minors might be receiving this Christmas. No one can be certain if all of the products that Santa delivers have labels and packaging that are compliant with current U.S. FDA regulations and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Recent cases include the popular “Live Forever Juice” product that guarantees its drinkers total immortality and violates countless FDA labeling requirements.

Just because you’ve been doing something a long time without having any FDA detentions or refusals before doesn’t mean you’re doing it right (in reference to Santa Claus’s past history of successful importing). I know for a fact that there are no in-house attorneys working for Mr. Clause at the North Pole because lawyers hate the cold.

Santa could become compliant again and get back on the FDA’s nice list by forming a partnership with a competent FDA consulting firm, which could do wonders, especially in regard to the facility registrations and labeling compliance.

His heart is in the right place. I just hope that he will take the compliance side of things more seriously before the FDA really cracks down on him. My firm has extended an offer to help with Mr. Claus’s import compliance program before the FDA puts Claus and his North Pole operation on FDA import alert, but I have not received word back.

 What’s your take on Santa’s non-compliance? Does it change your attitude about the jolly man? Please feel free to comment below! For more information, please call 410.740.3403, email Jon Barnes at or visit

Sources: and

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