Passenger Fined $1870 After Sausage McMuffins Were Found In Their Backpack

When I’ve traveled to Japan, I’ve always avoided getting behind South Asians in line at customs. Japanese officials profile. I’m not the one they’re looking for, but it slows things down to be behind the people they will pull aside.

Everywhere customs and immigration is a little bit different.

U.S. immigration is hard-nosed in Toronto, especially for Canadians entering for temporary work. Portland used to have a reputation as “Deportland.” At most ports of entry to the U.S. they’re looking for terrorists, and people with immigrant intent. In Australia they’re looking for… snacks.

It was only last month that Australia fined a woman $1750 for failing to declare a half-eaten subway sandwich. Now a passenger has been fined $1870 after McDonalds McMuffins were found in their backpack.

In fact, the contraband consisted of two sausage and egg McMuffins along with a ham and cheese croissant. The passenger had come off of a Jetstar flight from Bali to Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory. The breakfast survived the 2 hour 35 minute flight, but was confiscated and tested for foot and mouth disease.


Credit: Government of Australia

They don’t take forgetting the remains of your breakfast in your backpack lightly Down Under. And the Darwin airport’s biosecurity detecting dog Zinta is being hailed a hero.

“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,” Minister Murray Watt said in a news release.

According to Watt, the airport’s new biosecurity detector dog, Zinta, uncovered the meat last week in a backpack of a passenger arriving from Indonesia.

Undeclared McMuffin may just be the best fictional band name since Jack Black’s Kathleen Turner Overdrive in High Fidelity.

In 2018 a woman was fined $500 and lost her global entry after taking an apple off of a Delta flight and failing to declare it, though she got the fine waived and global entry restored after contacting her congressional representative’s office.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I have experienced the zero-tolerance policy in Oz. I basically had my luggage turned inside out by a customs officer at SYD due to a package of goldfish crackers he said were a dairy product. This is true in that they are made with some amount of real cheese – it just honestly never occurred to me, which he ultimately believed, so I was not fined or denied entry. But it took somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours before I was let go.

    Toronto is an interesting case. I have dual US-Canadian citizenship and grew up there and have passed through US immigration and customs hundreds of times. Once or twice I have been sent to secondary inspection to confirm paperwork/residency status. The paperwork I saw other people carrying to establish their “job offer” or “purpose of visit” was often laughable – handwritten letters not on letterhead from some purported employer, attestations from a “cousin” somewhere in the US or Canada (depending on what they were seeking to prove).

    US immigration has a reputation that is sometimes justified for harshness and rigidity. But this little window in the type of crap they are asked to accept as proof of whatever intent (or lack of intent) on a given day gave me at least a sense of how things look from their perspective, and why they may be less instinctively trusting than, say, my grandmother.

  2. I always, always say that I have food, even if I don’t. It’s better than being stopped, harassed, and fined for snack bar I’d forgotten about that is in either my suitcase or backpack.

  3. Clearly, Aussies have no bigger issues in their country and their lives than someone forgetting to dispose of Sausage McMuffin before stepping out of the plane.

  4. The crime was being in Bali and eating at McDonalds. Like the stupid Insider article the other day where the writer was in Paris and went to Starbucks. They need to be put in Food Jail.

  5. Y’all are missing the point. What kind of depraved human being would cart around some food from McDonald’s? The smell itself must have been a dead giveaway.

  6. Fortunatly, that poor sniffer dog endured filling his snoot with the stench of Bali McDonalds and survived.

  7. Was coming into Miami with a couple of sealed power bars I’d bought in the States before leaving for the Caribbean. Hit the “no food” selection on the Global Entry computer screen and a CBP agent came over and asked if I really didn’t have anything. Mentioned the bars and he said, “Next time say yes.” Guess it could have become a nasty issue, but he was decent about it. Something to keep in mind next time too.

  8. I learned my lesson on my very first trip to OZ in 2004. I was aware of the intolerance with violations of biosecurity so I was careful to dispose of obvious violations like beef jerky before entering customs. What I did not know is that QF had given candy to my very young kids before we deplaned which they had dutifully stowed in their bags. Those “lollies” cost me only AUD $250.

    So in the subsequent 14 or so visits to Australia, without fail I declare food, packaged food, prescription drugs, lollies, fruit and meat even when I am carrying NONE of these. I have never had a problem since and we are sent to secondary every single time. Apparently it is not the possession of these items that incurs the Aussie wrath, but the failure to declare them.

  9. Meanwhile…………….the Biden Terrorist Organization is flooding the Southern border will illegals.

  10. @Alan
    Alan doesn’t seem to understand this started a way long time ago, probably before he was born.

  11. I been watching Border International on YouTube recently. People always complain about the US Customs and Immigration but both Canadian and Aussie equivalents really don’t like people entering and not declaring.

  12. Meanwhile…………….the Biden Terrorist Organization is flooding the Southern border will illegals.

    Just how other presidents have flodded our country with Irish, Italians, and Eastern Europeans illegals with “tourist” visa.

  13. I would fly weekly on a regularly scheduled cargo route to Melbourne back in the 90’s. Prior to landing all food items on board had to be double bagged and given to immigration to be thrown away. In addition we had to spray using a fogger on the cargo deck for bugs. The cans were green like the old DDT cans of bug spray that we had in Vietnam in the 60’s. These rules have been around a long time.

  14. Foot and mouth disease is real, it is present in Indonesia, and if it reaches Australia could create a loss of tens of billions of dollars to Australian agriculture. These are not stupid agents looking for stupid sandwiches. They are serious about enforcing laws that are well sign posted and well advertised.

  15. @patrick – Prior to 1924, there was no such thing as an illegal immigrant, as there were no immigration quotas. The Irish, Italians, and Eastern Europeans all came when anyone who wasn’t screened out at the border due to some illness, indigence, or radical political belief, was let in.

    So nice try, but that talking point doesn’t work.

  16. This is an example of why government is evil. They don’t have the time to keep citizens or tourists safe from violent thugs, thieves, vandals, and rapists but they have time to harass and persecute people over non issues due to a capricious and ridiculous interpretation of rules the public does not support. Australia is just as bad as the U.K. Where speech is a crime and report of Muslim rape gangs will get the person reporting the crime harassed by the police. Australia is an example of why the public should not give up its guns. Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is tyranny of 51% on the 49%. Due to how things work and no direct votes on most individual policies, the 51% aren’t even calling the shots. The bureaucratic industrial complex controlled by globalist bankers are.

    In the U.S. 40 million illegals Roma free with free tuition in California, medical care, $10,000 a year in k-12 education paid for each child, housing benefits, free phones, and etc. while citizens and tourists are abused, harassed, or tortured by customs.

  17. @ Gary

    You really do yourself a great disservice by trivialising the issue of Australia’s biosecurity.

    What – is it some big joke to you?!

    After your earlier article in which informed commentators pointed out to your readers the immediate and potentially massive economic threat of foot and mouth disease spreading from Indonesia to Australia, you still persist in such a sad attempt to stir up your dumb readership?!

    You think destroying an estimated AUD80 billion of agricultural industry is a laughing matter?

    And, by the way, why hasn’t that racist scum @ Amy Fisher been banned from this website – she’s off again at it – also @ Koggerj (demonising LGBT community in the article about Pelosi / Taiwan).

    Gary, you have no sense of responsibility or ethical integrity.

  18. There are a lot of annoying people on this site, some with reprehensible positions. But short of abusing other users or Gary, there is only one sort of user who should be banned – those calling for others to be banned.

  19. @C_M totally agree! My thoughts exactly. If someone doesn’t like to read posts, don’t. If one doesn’t like Gary or his articles, don’t visit. Easy enough, imho.

  20. @ C_M and @ Gennady

    FYI @ Gary has stated on this blog:

    1) he is not perturbed by criticism

    2) he will moderate / delete racist and otherwise vile posts (the very sort repeatedly posted by those cited in my post)

    On that basis both of you are at odds with @ Gary’s stated position.

    @ Gennady

    Your own response shows you have no understanding of Australian biosecurity practice, the immediate threats posed by foot and mouth disease, which is at current risk of spreading from Bali (and Indonesia).

    You do realise that Gary is pandering to the very sort of ignorance you display by not writing an informed and intelligent article in the first place?

    Lap it up kiddo.

  21. I’m in vehement disagreement with @platy on the biosecurity issue. Remember that countries are social constructs and borders are artificial. They are human creations. Border enforcement is folly. The right of free people to free movement trumps any imagined economic savings. And yes I say imagined. True scientific measurement of the impact of any pest on agriculture is only feasible by way of a randomized controlled experiment, and those are not being done. When a news story reports that several million dollars of agriculture was destroyed by the introduction of a certain pest, that is statistical dishonesty, because the counterfactual was never ascertained. Claims by border agencies of a positive return on investment in border biosecurity hinge on rudimentary regression models that are not built to speak to the cause and effect of any intervention, even if the model was mathematically accurate, which it is not (“All models are wrong….”)

    The bigger problem with border enforcement is the empowerment of douchebags on power trips. I would rather lose millions of dollars in agriculture than to give visitors to my country that type of welcome. First impressions are priceless.

    Let’s also not forget that most food confiscated at borders is perfectly edible, yet sent to a grinder or incinerator. Shame on any country that enforces these agricultural rules on private noncommercial travelers.

    I do agree with @platy that @Amy Fischer and @koggerj need to be banned from this site. Gary Leff has banned numerous IP addresses and individual comment authors from this site for innocuous juvenile nuisances, like penis and vagina jokes. The bigotry demonstrated by @Amy Fischer and @koggerj is immeasurably worse and that Gary allows them through — while banning others for playfully joking about genitalia — is abhorrent.

    @C_M, your comments verge on abhorrent, and sometimes have crossed the chasm into utterly deplorable territory due to the abject lack of sympathy you show toward others. I just learned from your post earlier this week that you have children. Shame on you if you are instilling these disgusting values into your kids.

  22. @ Olaf

    Thank you for disagreeing me with!

    Thank you because whereas I have don’t necessarily agree with your positions, you did put forward a rationale based on a diverse and wholistic approach ! You have provided a set of positions that can be logically debated (unlike some on this blog) on their individual and combined merit.

  23. New Zealand also takes their biohazards very seriously. I’m so completely absorbed that I pack all my foodstuffs (requested items by family members down under) in a separate bag to carry on the plane, once neglecting one item was “considered” a liquid and was confiscated at security before boarding :o(

    They also look at the soles of your shoes to make sure you’re not tracking in any foreign dirt

  24. @Olaf – Meh. Condemnation from you is a badge of honor. You aren’t worth any more keystroke than that.

  25. @platldry – I’ll bet you’re just a blast at parties. Because everyone loves the Stasi informant.

  26. @ Olaf

    Some thoughts.

    “Remember that countries are social constructs and borders are artificial. They are human creations. Border enforcement is folly. The right of free people to free movement trumps any imagined economic savings.”

    Yes, in theory.

    That said, in the case of biosecurity of Australia – the country is rare being an island continent. Australia is also very dependent on agricultural industry.

    Biosecurity aimed at agricultural pests (the subject of the article) in itself isn’t stopping free movement of people.

    It is simply requiring them to make a declaration as to whether they carry any items, which present a potential biosecurity risk, so that appropriately trained personnel can inform arriving passengers whether they can keep said items or dispose of them.

    The issues arise when arriving passengers fail to make accurate declarations. In such cases they may or may not be fined in line with the legislation.

    “And yes I say imagined. True scientific measurement of the impact of any pest on agriculture is only feasible by way of a randomized controlled experiment, and those are not being done.”

    Yes, in theory. But policy advisors / makers don’t necessarily have the luxury of knowing the outcomes of the “perfect” experiments. They have to assess risk – thus probability of event and impact of event.

    FWIW the estimates for the impact of foot and mouth disease in Australia are summarised in the following report:

    http://data.daff.gov.au/data/warehouse/research_reports/9aab/2013/RR13.11PotSocEcoImpctOfFMD/RR13.11PotSocEcoImpctOfFMD_v1.0.0.pdf

    “When a news story reports that several million dollars of agriculture was destroyed by the introduction of a certain pest, that is statistical dishonesty, because the counterfactual was never ascertained”

    That could indeed be the case, however, it depends exactly on how it was reported. In any case, decisions need to be made before the introduction of a certain pest – deploy mitigation measures or don’t, if yes, which ones.

    “Claims by border agencies of a positive return on investment in border biosecurity hinge on rudimentary regression models that are not built to speak to the cause and effect of any intervention, even if the model was mathematically accurate, which it is not (“All models are wrong….”)”

    Yes, most models focus on either one risk agent or one intervention.

    Yes, you are dealing with issues of uncertainty and complexity – simple regression models (which are competent at defining relatively simple relationships between independent variables) are not generally cut out for addressing such questions with statistical rigor.

    FWIW here is an Australian approach which attempts to adopt a more wholistic approach (see also links in article):

    https://cebra.unimelb.edu.au/research/building-scientific-capability/value-of-australias-biosecurity-system

    Incidentally, biosecurity in Australia on a commercial level (arriving goods and ships, etc) in undertaken on a cost recovery basis. You can read about it here:

    https://www.agriculture.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/biosecurity-cris-statement-2021-22.pdf

    The amounts involved a an extremely small fraction of the estimates of financial impact – thus, those estimates of impact do not have to be very accurate to attain a positive ROI (estimates include 30x ROI).

    “The bigger problem with border enforcement is the empowerment of douchebags on power trips. I would rather lose millions of dollars in agriculture than to give visitors to my country that type of welcome. First impressions are priceless.”

    Yes – but in the case of the enforcement of Australia biosecurity for arriving passengers the rules are clearly articulated in the legislation, which quarantine officers must comply with.
    Any relevant fines (e.g. for not declaring goods on the declaration forms) are also highly detailed in the legislation.

    If the arriving passengers believes they have been victimised by a “douchebag” then they have the option to go to court to seek remedy.

    In other words, there is a check and balance in the system.

    “Let’s also not forget that most food confiscated at borders is perfectly edible, yet sent to a grinder or incinerator. Shame on any country that enforces these agricultural rules on private noncommercial travelers.”

    All travellers have to do is to declare relevant goods, if they don’t want to throw them out. It’s really not that hard. And really not that great an imposition.

    Declared items are simply checked by the quarantine officer – if such item was obviously of no risk (biscuits, chocolate) the officer will likely let you keep it – if the item is of potential risk (meats, seeds, fresh plant matter) the officer will likely bin it.

    The impact on the arriving passenger is effectively trivial – just fill in the form and leave the contents of your fridge / freezer at home!

  27. @ C_M

    “Because everyone loves the Stasi informant.”

    Yes, folks, that’s the level of commentary by some on this blog.

    You’re sounding paranoid, mate, better check under your bed before you go to sleep. They’re coming to take you away.

  28. If the arriving passengers believes they have been victimised by a “douchebag” then they have the option to go to court to seek remedy.

    Right–but this is Australia: they’re notable for having no rules that bind the courts, and no protections for foreigners. Saudi Arabia may be repressive, but it’s predictable: Australia doesn’t even manage that. (Remember, this is the country that managed to cost professional tennis tens of millions by changing its rules once players were already in country.)

  29. @plaTLDRy – Zzzzzzz. I mean come on, mate. You do like the sound of your own voice.

    Like I said, you’re fun at parties – you make them end early.

  30. @platy – boy, your demeaning and lacking respect posts don’t deserve my time or comment. Esp. since you bring no useful info. Go play with yourself, kiddo, you’re as annoying as autumn fly.

  31. @ SamChevre

    “Right–but this is Australia: they’re notable for having no rules that bind the courts, and no protections for foreigners.”

    Sam, you need a hanky to mob up the drivel oozing from you mouth.

    “Remember, this is the country that managed to cost professional tennis tens of millions by changing its rules once players were already in country.”

    But, Sam, the “country” DIDN’T change the rules for players and officials at the 2022 Australian Open Tennis – that’s the point. And that is a matter of legally documented fact. You either accept the facts or you live in ignorance and prejudice. Your choice.

    Some 3,500 players and officials presented themselves for the tournament duly vaccinated per the mandate by the tournament organisers, including for all those visiting the event.

    Federal government rules to enter Australia mandated vaccination at that time.
    Tennis Australia (not the federal or state government) provided a novax exemption for Novax to play in the tournament – that is entirely different to the rules of entry into the country.

    One self entitled tennis player refused to be vaccinated and was caught out lying on his visa declarations about the countries he had visited immediately before his arrival. There were also question marks over the timing of his claimed recent COVID diagnosis.

    At that time the entry rules were that everyone needed to be vaxed to enter the country.

    The very point is that he had recourse to challenge the retraction of his visa upon arrival through the Australian court system. And that was exactly what happened. The decisions of the Immigration Minister (i.e. government) were tested in court, and all the way to the highest court possible. Novax had that opportunity. In the end three Federal Court judges were dragged out on a weekend to hear the case and made a judgment.

    Here are the original court papers:

    https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/services/access-to-files-and-transcripts/online-files/djokovic

    The great irony is for all off those people visiting the USA on the visa waiver program, they are obliged to forego any legal rights to challenge the decisions of an immigration officer deciding whether or not to let them into the country.

    You are making a claim which is entirely factually fallacious.

    But hey you’re in good company on this blog – many dumb Americans herein trapped in ignorance and prejudice.

  32. @ Gennady

    “boy, your demeaning and lacking respect posts don’t deserve my time or comment”

    It is deliciously ironic that you seek to protect those posters herein who are repeatedly rampantly anti-black racist and consistently displaying hatred and demeaning to women.

    But when your own ignorance is challenged, you are incapable of rational and evidence-based debate, and resort to personal attacks and references to masturbation.

    Funny guy.

  33. @ C_M

    “Like I said, you’re fun at parties – you make them end early.”

    C’mon, mate, that’s not a sledge, it’s the cry of a limp lettuce leaf.

    Off you go, back to the safety of your Institute for Madhatter’s mob for another round of right wing brainwashing.

    MAGBA – Make America Great Britain Again.

  34. @C_M & Gennady. Well stated but unfortunately lost on platy. I only comment knowing that I cannot change the egocentric mind of platy but I can support those who recognize and challenge his dissertations.

  35. @ OneTrippe

    “@C_M & Gennady….but I can support those who recognize and challenge his dissertations”

    So, on this thread about Australian biosecurity @ C_M’s contribution was as follows:

    “The crime was being in Bali and eating at McDonalds.’

    Just what in that is worthy of your support?

    Yep – and then they was the usual personally abusive stuff (actually not initially directed at me) culminating is an incredibly inappropriate remark about Stasi informants.

    You think that remark is worthy of your support?

    Oh yeah in the meantime, there’s the call NOT to remove abject racist and discriminatory commentary on this blog. And you support that?

    Of course the contribution from @ Gennady is equally edifying:

    “Clearly, Aussies have no bigger issues in their country and their lives than someone forgetting to dispose of Sausage McMuffin before stepping out of the plane.”

    Some AUD80 billions of Australian agriculture is at stake and for these clowns it is all just one big laugh.

    And you are supporting these muppets?

    Our hallowed correspondent @ Gennady then proceeds to make a personal attack referring to masturbation. And yet that is what you are supporting?

    Neither have put forward one single cogent point of view on the topic at hand.

    Both have made vile personal attacks referring to Stasi informants and wanking and yet you support them.

    What a sad excuse of a human being you are, buddy. Unable to defend you own points view with logic and evidence you join the hounds baying for blood to hide your ignorance, fear and loathing.

    What a sad excuse for a human being you are as well.

  36. @ OneTrippe @ C_M – The moron with verbal diareah said “ And you are supporting these muppets?”

    He’s too dense to understand that his personal ad hominem attacks which add nothing to the topic at hand are annoying everyone. Just low-life’s futile attempts at getting attention. Spewing endless amounts of meaningless crap here doesn’t impress or impact anyone.

  37. As Jim Carey said in Lair Liar, just don’t break the law Ass#$%ole – if you have the ability to buy a ticket and travel, just follow the law for God’s sake! It is is not rocket science….

  38. @ Gennady

    Muppet (since the subtle reference eluded you) = brainless and spineless toy (i.e. a ventriloquist’s dummy) with somebody’s (in your case, an incel, racist or Madhatter) hand up the backside, bleating whatever childish drivel their master commands their voice to utter.

    Put simply, mate, remember to self declare on your quarantine form, if you ever dare to visit Australia – slugs (a shell-less gastropod – i.e. all foot and mouth – apposite for a discussion of the risks of foot and mouth disease and biosecurity) need careful scrutiny to make sure they don’t carry noisome pathogens into the community.

    You wanna sledge – do it right.

  39. @ Gennady

    There were 5 levels to the slug joke. Are you even smart enough to derive one of them? Nah – I didn’t think so.

    Discodorids rule!

  40. @Tim Kelly – actually beef jerky is allowed, if it is from a country free from foot and mouth disease, and in a sealed packet, up to 1 kg per passenger. So you could have brought it in if you’d declared it.

    As for everyone arguing about No-vax Djokovic, the fundamental source of the problem there was the incompetence of the government in not providing crystal clear rules up front. Fortunately, the old government has been replaced with more competent grown ups. And in any case there is no longer a requirement to be vaccinated to travel to Australia.

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