Traveler fined nearly US$2k for undeclared McMuffins found in luggage

A traveler arriving in Australia from Bali has been hitting with a hefty fine after failing to declare two McMuffins at the border.

The unnamed traveller was handed a fine of $2,664 Australian dollars (US$1,874) after two undeclared egg and beef sausage McMuffins were found in the backpacker’s luggage while arriving at Darwin Airport last week.

The McFine came days after Australia implemented new biosecurity measures to stem the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The new law is designed to protect the country’s large agriculture industry from imported diseases and pests.

Australian authorities are on high alert after an FMD outbreak in Indonesia, with all meat imports from the Asian country undergoing screening.

Foot and Mouth Disease poses no risk to humans but is highly contagious and severe among livestock.

Australian Agriculture Minister Murray Watt says “this will be the most expensive Maccas meal [McDonald’s] this passenger ever has.” At $2,664 Australia, the fine is equivalent to the cost of 567 sausage and egg McMuffins in Sydney.

Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry says fast-food items are part of a “range of undeclared risk products” throughout the country. “Don’t bring meat or dairy products to Australia,” says the government. “If you do, you must declare them for inspection.”

The traveler’s backpack was detected by a biosecurity detector dog named Zinta. Watt says Australia is currently “FMD-free and we want it to stay that way.”

In July, the Australian government announced a $9.8 million biosecurity initiative that introduced new measures across the country’s borders, including sanitation foot mats at all international airports and biosecurity dogs stationed at both Darwin and Cairns Airport.

“Travellers arriving from Indonesia will be under much stricter biosecurity scrutiny due to the presence of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in Indonesia,” reads a July 20 statement. “Failing to declare biosecurity risks will mean a breach of Australia’s biosecurity laws, and anyone found in breach could be issued with an infringement notice of up to $2,664.”

FMD can cause painful blisters and lesions on the mouths and feet of cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats, which can cause them to stop eating, sometimes resulting in animal deaths.

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