What may go down as one of the most expensive McDonald’s breakfasts in Australian history, a traveller heading home from a holiday in Bali was hit was a fine of 2,664 Australian dollars ($1,874) for two undeclared McMuffins and a ham croissant, as well as other items of contraband smuggled in their carryon luggage last week.
Australia is cracking down on biosecurity following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia spread to Bali — a favorite vacation spot for Australians. The government is investing $9.8 million to keep the disease out of Australia, including more biosecurity sniffing dogs and sanitation foot mats to prevent travelers from bringing the highly infectious disease into the country.
The offending breakfast was caught by a biosecurity sniffing dog at the Darwin Airport in the country’s Northern Territory. From CNN:
Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said a “range of undeclared risk products,” including the fast food items, were detected in the passenger’s rucksack by a biosecurity detector dog named Zinta.
“This will be the most expensive Maccas meal this passenger ever has,” Murray Watt, minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said in a statement.
“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.”
The statement went on to confirm that the passenger had been issued with “a 12-unit infringement notice for failing to declare potential high biosecurity risk items and providing a false and misleading document.” The seized products are to be tested for foot and mouth disease before being destroyed.
“Australia is FMD-free, and we want it to stay that way,” added Watt.
Doesn’t seem quite worth it, considering McDonalds (or Maccas, as Australians charmingly call it) is the same in every country. That’s the whole point of McDonalds: you know exactly what you’re getting no matter where you go. It’s not like an In-N-Out burger — you can get McMuffins, even in Darwin, Australia.
While foot-and-mouth is merely an annoyance when contracted by most humans, the disease can severely injure cloven-hooved farm animals like cows, sheep, pigs and goats, preventing them from eating or walking and leading to permanent lameness or even death. The disease spreads quickly in herd animals and the safest option for farmers is to cull infected herds. During the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK, 6.5 million animals were culled, costing the economy $16 billion, according to Reuters. Estimates of the economic cost of a foot-and-mouth outbreak range all the way up to $80 billion for the land down under.