An as-yet-unidentified air traveler was hit with an AUD$2,664 ($1,846) “infringement notice” after a Darwin airport sniffer dog detected his leftover McMeal when he flew from Bali, Indonesia to the northern Australian city.
According to a release from Murray Watt, Australia’s newly sworn-in Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the traveler was also carrying a ham croissant. His entire breakfast was deemed to be an undeclared biosecurity risk; after being confiscated, the items were going to be tested for foot and mouth disease (FMD) before being destroyed.
“This will be the most expensive Maccas meal this passenger ever has, this fine is twice the cost of an airfare to Bali, but I have no sympathy for people who choose to disobey Australia’s strict biosecurity measures, and recent detections show you will be caught,” Watt said in a statement. “Australia is FMD-free, and we want it to stay that way.”
Watt said that the McMuffins (and croissant) were sniffed out by Zinta, a biosecurity detector dog who has recently been put to work in the airport. “[I]t’s excellent to see she is already contributing to keeping the country safe,” Watt added.
This is the second fast food-related fine to come out of Australia this summer. In mid-July, an Australian woman had to pay the same penalty after bringing her unfinished Subway sandwich into the country. Jessica Lee said that she bought the footlong during a layover in Singapore and put half of it into her carry-on bag.
“I ate six inches before my second flight and then saved the other six inches for the flight,” she admitted on TikTok. “I thought the little declaration thing you do is for your carry-ons and your luggage, so I didn’t tick chicken and I didn’t tick lettuce.”
Although she wasn’t able to TikTok her way out of the fine, Subway Australia did send her a gift card worth AUD$2,664, along with a thank you card and a box of Subway-branded merch.
And if you think this kind of thing doesn’t happen to U.S. travelers, allow us to introduce you to Crystal Tadlock. In April 2018, the Colorado woman flew from Paris to the United States, and said that Delta Airlines handed out apples as an in-flight snack. She kept the fruit in a Delta-branded plastic bag and took it off the plane with her when her flight landed in Minneapolis. After a random search, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents found the literally forbidden fruit, and told her that it was a “prohibited agricultural product,” and that she’d just scored herself a $500 fine.
“[The agent] had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, ‘Yeah.’ I didn’t really get why he was asking that question, and then he said ‘It’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500’,” she said.
The McMuffins were sniffed out by a biosecurity detector dog. https://t.co/CsSgfeocuG
— Food & Wine (@foodandwine) August 2, 2022
Fortunately for Tadlock, her story got the attention of Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) who met with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on her behalf. The fine was eventually dropped. “When cooler heads prevailed, and when they thought about it for a second, they did the right thing,” Perlmutter told KDVR.
“Now the next step is to take a look at can they add some discretion so the agency isn’t having to issue a fine like this when it doesn’t make any sense and is there something the airline can do before you get off the plane to remind you.”
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