Woman Fined $1750 For Failing To Declare Half A Subway Sandwich At Customs

A woman picked up a Subway sandwich in the Singapore airport before her flight to Perth, Australia. She only ate half of it – and for some reason brought the leftovers with her. Perhaps she wanted to find out first hand just how sick an unrefrigerated fast food sandwich will make you after a five hour flight.

She failed to declare the remains of her foot long at customs when she arrived back in Australia, and was fined ~ US$1750.

In a video posted to social media, the woman acknowledges her mistake. She had taken a flight back from Europe and was connecting. And she wasn’t thinking clearly when she claimed not to be bringing any food into the country. She offered that the thought “the little declaration thing you do is for your carry-ons and your luggage” so she “didn’t tick chicken” and she “didn’t tick lettuce” on the agriculture disclosure.

But she’s tight on cash – she quit her job before her trip abroad, and the fine and her rent are both due at about the same time. The Aussies take agriculture declarations seriously. And occasionally bureaucrats on power trips apply rules formulaically rather than applying reason to the circumstance. A subway sandwich from the Singapore airport is probably safer than much of what’s already in the country.

Indeed, customs officers acknowledged discretion which she says they were choosing not to extend to her, offering that foreigners often don’t get fined because of the “language barrier” while she was facing full enforcement because she “speak[s] perfect English.”

@_jessicaleeee Australian government tings 🥰🥰 starting that OF back up again to SURVIVE the next few months #fyp #australia #subway #boujee ♬ original sound – Jessica Lee

Here’s her Instagram where she appears to specialize in posting photos of herself wearing very little clothing (yet has surprisingly few followers).

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.

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. She’s getting more followers now. I call BS on this being a mistake. It’s for PR and getting Instagram followers.

  2. Apparently she’s traveling with her boyfriend so she has money to pay the fine.

    She just doesn’t want to pay for it and be petty.

  3. I understand why she took the remaining with her. She probably thought she would eat it shortly after the flight took off.

    Then she forgot about it, but didn’t she smell it when she opened up her purse? And if it was in her carryon, then she did not have an intent to eat it later.

    I felt sympathy for her until I saw that she is apparently traveling for vacation but Doesn’t have enough money to pay the fine plus her rent.

  4. If she vomits the chicken and lettuce in her unrefrigerated Singapore Subway sandwich as she is clearing an agricultural inspection, does Government Australia mandate passengers to declare the ingredients in their puke?

  5. Creditan- In the comments she said she was going to pay the fine and was just being emotional. Also Subway Australian said they would look into this.

  6. @glen – why would it matter that she bought it in an airport. She hadn’t cleared Australian customs yet. If she bought a bottle of duty free liquor in the Singapore airport she would have to declare it so what is different about a sandwich.

    BTW I do think this fine was excessive and wouldn’t be shocked if it was reduced or waived after all the publicity

  7. Her ability to pay does not take away from the obsurdity of the agents. Completely unjustified. Just make the woman throw the sandwich away & next in line. The agents are the only petty ones in this story.

  8. Just another example of how greedy this works. Yes fine her. But 1750 ridiculous

  9. “Here’s her Instagram where she appears to specialize in posting photos of herself wearing very little clothing”
    I cannot believe we’re in 2022 and there are still people minding what others are wearing. 1980’s called, she wants her conservatism back.

  10. You’re in the Singapore airport and you choose to go to Subway? Should be fined $10,000 for bad taste.

    All countries freak out about violating agricultural import laws. You let the one wrong thing in your country and you’ve got a multimillion dollar cleanup campaign on your hand, if you can ever get it cleaned up. Truth be told, they probably care more about it than almost anything else you might be bringing in. It’s a huge problem. California has some pretty serious laws about being in agriculture products from other states, let alone other countries. Med fly, anyone?

  11. Like most women she suffers from narcissism and an entitlement complex. The fact that she’s a millennial also feeds into that attitude and she’s also on only fans which tells your everything your need to know.

  12. C_M is correct. Just fly to Italy and try to bring some prosciutto back to the US.

    By the way, just try to enter California on a major surface highway and you will pass through an agricultural inspection station. They are looking for produce . . . and bark beetles (among other pests). They will confiscate produce as well as any wood you’re transporting . . . and one is subject to fine.

    This is a far more common story than we think.

  13. C_M i thought the same. It’s like going to southern France and eating at McDonald’s.

  14. I purchased a chocolate croissant at CDG and didn’t eat it on the plane. The global entry person noticed the Paul (bakery) bag peeking out of my carry on and I was loudly threatened at length with $10k fine and permanent revocation of my GOES privileges. To this day I declare any tea, candy, sugar packets and lozenges when going through global entry and the agents just shake their heads and say “you must’ve met S****” in the past. It only takes one bad apple.

  15. I once got caught by Australia because I brought a small package of crackers provided by the airline on that flight. No fine.

    Now that I have GE, when ever I go through customs or drive from Canada, I always tell them in an excited voice “I have food, I have something to declare, it’s food”. They get surprised then roll their eyes when I reply “one candy bar” then they wave me through. I don’t want to lose Global Entry.

  16. In the video clip, she acted or moved her hands too much. Only the teddy bear is cute! 🙂

  17. A Moron at ATL customs once gave me a hard time for declaring an $8 chocolate bar.

    I told him “your rules, not mine”

  18. @C_M

    Simp, hope she sees you defending her. Maybe she will have sex with you if you grovel enough.

  19. @Koggerj – I wasn’t going to name names, but if you want to self-identify as an incel, more power to you.

  20. @C_M
    Guys like you always call everyone an incel who don’t worship the ground women walk and and put up with their narcissism and entitled attitudes. It because of guys like you that women are the way they are today.

  21. G’Day Mate:
    Because of the Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Biosecurity import regulations, on arrival, I remembered to declare the wooden toothpick included free with my lunch sandwich. However, a wooden toothpick will need an inspection by a departmental officer to ensure they are free from any pathogenic biosecurity risk material (such as insect infestation in wooden tree bark).
    The Australian Government wants to remind all travelers that “all wooden, bamboo and similar articles imported for personal use are subject to import conditions, whether imported as passenger luggage, through the mail, via a courier service or through freight.” In addition, for some products, import conditions for personal use differ from those for goods imported commercially. These differences are published in Australia’s Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) system​. BICON houses the Australian Government’s Biosecurity import conditions database for more than 20,000 plants, animals, minerals, and biological products. It will help you determine what import conditions exist and if an import permit is required.

    So be careful you do not get denied entry to Australia or receive a $1,750.00 US Dollar ($2,164.32 AUD) fine after your 14-hour trip because you forgot to declare one tiny wooden toothpick. And, welcome to Australia.

  22. Yup. Got busted at JFK for sealed shelf stable sausages. (I didn’t know) and then got laughed at in ATL for declaring sealed cookies. I have been known to mail “souvenirs” home to myself.

  23. If this woman had been an illegal and smuggled herself here they would’ve signed her up for benefits. Since she’s a citizen she gets screwed like the rest of us.

  24. Last time we went through Customs at JFK in June, we got rerouted through Ag Inspection. They did give us a chance to fess up to anything, we said “cookies”, and they put everything through the X-ray. Basic rule is no fresh fruit or veg, meat of any kind, cheese that has been sealed is okay. Except for meat, anything that has been cooked is generally okay. But you are supposed to declare if you’ve been on a farm or in contact with any livestock.

    FWIW, although the duty-free limits on alcohol are 1 liter per person, the duty (3%) and excise tax (roughly $2 per liter) on excess bottles is actually low. (Your state also has to allow it, but mine does.) I imagine if they catch you not declaring, the penalties are rather severe, including losing Global Entry, but we’re talking roughly $5 per bottle in excess of the duty-free allowance, so not worth the risk of not declaring. But FAA regs don’t allow more than 5 liters per person of spirits. So if you want to bring back a case of that rare Scotch you found (750 ml bottles), and you can pack it in your bag, there’s no rule against it, as long as you have two adults over 21, you just have to declare it. I have considered it for things not otherwise available here, like rare Armagnacs, but never actually done it, more due to weight and fragility than anything else.

  25. Western Australia has one of the strictest agriculture quarantines in the world. At the airport big signs make it abundantly clear that ANY fruits and vegetables are a big no-no. There are multiple amnesty bins throughout Perth airport, as well as biosecurity doors you have to pass through. I would bet it was the food detecting dogs at baggage claim that got her.

    I find it hard to believe that someone who lives in Perth is unaware of all this. Perhaps there is more to the story?

  26. The Australian Government takes biosecurity very seriously. This should not be a surprise. Primary industry and the natural environment is at risk from introduced pathogens.

    For example, currently there is much concern about he spread of foot and mouth disease in the neighbouring country of Indonesia, which could have devastating impact on Australian beef production (figures of AUD8 billion losses over 10 years are being touted).

    Follow the rules. Declare what you have on the arrivals declaration or put your shite in the bins in the airport arrivals areas before you reach passport control.

    It’s not hard. There is ample advice / warning.

    From government websites:

    “Australia has strict biosecurity controls to help minimise the risk of pests and diseases entering the country. All travellers must meet the requirements before entering Australia.

    You must declare certain food, plant material and animal products on your Incoming Passenger Card (IPC). An IPC is a document that identifies and records a person’s entry into Australia. It’s where you declare goods for custom and quarantine inspection.

    If you declare goods on your IPC, go to an inspection point on arrival. A biosecurity officer will assess them.

    If you don’t want to declare goods, dispose of them in the bins at the terminal before the inspection points.

    You could be fined or prosecuted for carrying undeclared controlled goods.

    Officers screen your luggage using:

    detector dogs
    x-ray machines and/or
    baggage inspection.

    In many cases, they’ll return your declared goods to you after inspection. Some items may need treatment to make them safe. Some items are not allowed into Australia because of the risk of pests and disease. Officers may seize these for export or destruction.

    Before travelling, check if you can bring your items back to Australia.

    Check detailed import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) website.

    ou must declare wildlife products on arrival in Australia. Some may also require a permit.

    If you buy wildlife products overseas, find out if you need a permit before bringing them home with you. If you don’t have the correct permit, authorities will seize your product. Penalties or fines may apply.

    ‘Wildlife’ includes any whole, part or derivative of a plant or animal, living or non-living. Examples include:

    protected wildlife, such as coral, orchids, caviar and hunting trophies
    wood and seeds
    ivory and products made from ivory
    insects
    leather or fur
    traditional medicines containing animal organs, teeth or body parts
    faeces
    live plants
    fresh or dried flowers.”

  27. @ Me

    “If this woman had been an illegal and smuggled herself here they would’ve signed her up for benefits. Since she’s a citizen she gets screwed like the rest of us”

    Baseless drivel.

    Generally, you need to be a permanent resident to get benefits in Australia.

    You can’t be such without going through a lengthy and thorough visa assessment process.

    The newly arrived residents waiting period of 208 weeks (4 years) before benefits / concessions.

    To get the age pension you generally need to be a resident for 10 years (or a resident for 2 years who has been widowed to an Australian).

    Etc…etc…

    But hey, continue to wallow in your misplaced envy and hatred if you want to believe the racist BS spread by some.

  28. @C_M

    I had to read up on the term “incel”, including the excellent 5 May 2018 article in The New Yorker.

    But – OMG – you absolutely nailed it!

  29. This proves the government is evil as are the people who work for it. Government does not exist without the agents and cops enforcing it. They made a decision to enforce a ridiculous rule not consented to by citizens. She shouldn’t have been fined a penny.

  30. @ Amy Fischer

    Nothing you have written reflects reality.

    The rule is not ridiculous.

    It prevents disease entering Australia and wrecking agriculture.

    That protects the jobs and income of residents and citizens.

    It prevents disease and suffering in agricultural animals, like sheep and cows.

    It prevents disease wrecking the environment.

    In Australia, the government is chosen by the citizens in a federal election every 3 years (it’s called democracy). The government is thereby accountable to the people.

    The cops don’t enforce government – they seek to enforce the laws (enacted by government) and maintain public order.

    The judicial system (the courts) applies the law, constitution and international human rights.

    If the lady who was fined believes the fine is not compliant with the law, she can challenge the fine in court.

  31. Arrived in AU, first off the plane (a mistake) and got called over to have my carryon inspected. I had some cigars which had been pre-inspected at the departing airport before I got on the plane — In Bali they have a pre-inspection so customers don’t get nailed by AU customs! Nevertheless got yelled & threatened over the cigars, did you sign this form?, all the scripted crap. I insisted on weighing. The customs officer came back and said they were “letting me go” but I was on their permanent list. Every government has people like this but I think AU is about the worse. And of course the officious Australians come to Bali to get drunk and puke on the street.

  32. @platy

    51% choosing for 49% is not consent for the 49%.

    These rules are supposed to be for large scale importation of produce and food stuffs. A woman bringing half a sandwich is not the target of these rules. The application of a fine is arbitrary, capricious, and an example of abuse of power by the government. No one is protected by this rule.

  33. As @Amy Fischer says, the spirit of agricultural import rules are not for individual travelers. They are for mass commercial importers.

    I challenge any person to say with a straight face that a small bug on a single traveler’s apple could wreck the country’s agricultural system. If this were the case (in PRACTICE not just in THEORY), there would not be a declaration process on arrival. There would be a strip all the way down, CAT scan your luggage, shake your booty so we can make sure there are no pathogens hiding in your rectum, process.

    The fact is that the agricultural system can survive whatever individual travelers are bringing in.

    @platy should be banned from all countries as his stupidity could be contagious to any native population.

  34. @ Amy Fisher

    “51% choosing for 49% is not consent for the 49%”

    Just what nonsense are you trying to claim, Amy?! I would be every surprised if the vast majority of Australians did not support the work of the various biosecurity agencies, appreciating the value of protecting the country from biosecurity risks. If you any evidence to the contrary (since you are making an unsubstantiated and illogical claim) then provide it – otherwise stop spouting baloney about stuff you evidently have absolutely no idea about.

    If a vocal portion of the community had issues they would certainly have a public voice and the issue would become political (which it hasn’t in the 30 plus years I have lived in Australia).

    “These rules are supposed to be for large scale importation of produce and food stuffs.”

    No that is not correct. The rules apply to everyone and all circumstances. You are posting fallacious nonsense, Amy.

    For example – the current concerns about foot and mouth disease quoted from newspaper SMH) focus on the risk posed by individual travellers:

    “…The highly contagious foot and mouth disease, which would devastate Australia’s agriculture industry and rural communities, has been detected in Bali.

    The livestock disease infects most domesticated farm species including pigs, cattle and sheep, but can be transported on people’s shoes or clothes.

    An outbreak in Australia could cost the economy up to $80 billion.

    Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is visiting Bali to extend Australia’s assistance and offer vaccines.
    Travellers returning from Indonesia are being urged to declare any contact with livestock or farmland.

    The risk of the devastating foot and mouth livestock disease entering Australia is so great Agriculture Minister Murray Watt cannot rule out mandatory border checks on every tourist returning from Indonesia, as he pleads with travellers to play their part in stopping a biosecurity outbreak.

    An outbreak on Indonesia’s main island of Java has spread to the popular tourist island of Bali, which is visited by more than 1 million Australians a year, ramping up the risk of a first-ever outbreak Down Under.

    Australians who have visited Bali are being urged to play their part in stopping a biosecurity outbreak.

    The disease infects cloven-hoofed animals and does not affect the health of humans. But people can carry it on their shoes, clothes or in their noses – where it can survive for up to 24 hours. Flights from Denpasar to Darwin are only 2.5 hours long…”

    And to address the rest of your post:

    “The application of a fine is arbitrary, capricious”

    Actually, not it’s not. It is defined in legislation. Go and read the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the amendments relating to the issuance of penalty infringement notices and attendant penalty units and associated levels of fine which can be legally issued under the legislation (see Biosecurity Amendment (Strengthening Penalties) Bill 2021). There are also individual state-based statutes.

    The strengthening of penalties was triggered by the introduction of White Spot Syndrome Virus from uncooked prawns brought into the country, which led to a local destruction of the prawn industry in southern Queensland.

    If the person fined believes a fine was “arbitrary or capricious” (your terms, not mine) then that person can go to court to challenge the basis of the fine – the person serving the infringement notice had legally to comply with the legislation.

    The concepts aren’t hard, Amy, if you can look beyond your hysterical and deluded conspiracy theories.

  35. @Actual Statistician

    “As @Amy Fischer says, the spirit of agricultural import rules are not for individual travelers. They are for mass commercial importers.”

    Go and read the relevant legislation (I’ve already cited some of it in my just posted response to @ Amy Fisher) – that will prove you both factually incorrect.

    If you disagree with the legislation or its implementation, so be it, you might like then to read the various expert reviews into Australian biosecurity controls and their recommendations for efficient practice. Incidentally, there is a review program undertaken by the Inspector General for Biosecurity (as required under the Biosecurity Act 2015).

    “I challenge any person to say with a straight face that a small bug on a single traveler’s apple could wreck the country’s agricultural system”

    I have already provided the example in my just posted response to @ Amy Fisher of foot and mouth disease and the concern relating to the role of individual travellers in introducing that pathogen into the national agricultural system.

    Nobody will be smiling in smug ignorance if that disease uses billions of dollars worth of damage to the industry and the individuals, which it employs and supports.

    In any case, your attempt at argument by speciously citing one hypothetical example (a bug on one traveller’s apple) in a unitary case ignores the reality that the control system is designed to control rare events in a very large population sample (if you are actually a statistician, you should have more informed insights about frequency distributions of rare events) – if you know anything about risk analysis you might recall that we are mitigating low probability / high impact scenarios. “Bug zero” festering in your apple (your example, not mine) can be the very rare harbinger of very devastating events. This is theoretically similar to safety practice in certain industries, such as aviation, where individual actions are encouraged or required, but can seem trivial and inconsequential until there is a very rare event with catastrophic consequences.

    “If this were the case (in PRACTICE not just in THEORY), there would not be a declaration process on arrival. There would be a strip all the way down, CAT scan your luggage, shake your booty so we can make sure there are no pathogens hiding in your rectum, process.”

    Well there are various practices and no doubt efficacy date own their implementation – these include use of X-ray machines (which I’ve observed being used on most arriving pax in some main airports such as SYD) and also highly trained sniffer dogs.

    But it’s not an all or nothing practice, is it, mate? The practical application of mitigation measures are determined against estimates of risk (probability / impact).

    Where probability of event is compelling (as per the foot and mouth example), then practice is reviewed and will be strengthened (as mooted for Australians returning from Bali, etc).

    “The fact is that the agricultural system can survive whatever individual travelers are bringing in”.

    Not that’s not true – it depends on the pathogen and circumstances. Your statement is just plain ignorance based on your own perceptions and presumptions (one suspects without any relevant training or experience).

    Humans have great difficulty perceiving and thereby understanding real world risk, especially for rare events, and particularly with respect to biological systems, which do not conform to simple linear expectations and necessarily fit human ability for pattern recognition.

    “@platy should be banned from all countries as his stupidity could be contagious to any native population.”

    In large part, I’m simply posting how the local management system works and why it is deemed important by those charged with such matters. I’ve also provided the facts to refute erroneous claims about arbitrary fines and capricious government agents, etc., etc.

    But go ahead, shoot the messenger, I’m immune to such insults – especially from folk who demonstrate their ignorance and adopt feeble logical positions.

  36. @DaveS says:

    “$175 is a serious deterrent to forgetting you have a sandwich. $1,750 is outrageous”

    The fine is determined through a system of penalty units defined in legislation. The penalty reflects the risk posed by the infringement, not on your perception of forgetfulness. If the penalty units / fine have been misapplied, the pax can seek legal recourse.

  37. Would expect No less from the same country that locked down the population for months, beat protestors in the streets, and refused to allow citizens to enter or leave the country.

    I used to like Australia but it lacks any check on the government.

  38. @ Jack the Lad

    It’s very simple. If you failed to declare your cigars on your quarantine arrivals form (as your post seems to suggest), then you deserved to be chastened for perjuring yourself on a legally binding document.

  39. What a silly girl… the announcement before landing in Australia is quite explicit that it includes food provided to you on the flight etc., so I wonder whether she really forgot or was just over confident that she wouldn’t get caught. Either way, it was hopefully a valuable lesson that you actually need to pay attention when you sign legally binding paperwork.

  40. Always declare food in any form. It’s that simple. The individual doesn’t decide what applies and what doesn’t. Once you declare it- you are no longer in jeopardy of a fine.

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