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'Most expensive Maccas meal' after air traveller fined

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A traveller from Indonesia has been fined thousands of dollars after being caught trying to sneak undeclared McDonald’s into Australia during a foot and mouth disease alert.

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The detector dog, named Zinta, sniffed out two egg and beef sausage McMuffins from McDonald’s in Bali and a ham croissant stashed in the traveller’s backpack on arrival at Darwin airport one day last week.

Passengers returning from Indonesia face stricter biosecurity checks and penalties for undeclared meat and dairy products as authorities try to prevent foot and mouth disease from entering Australia.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Murray Watt said in a statement on Monday that Zinta detected the “significant biosecurity breach” last week. The returning passenger was issued a $2664 infringement notice after the takeaway stash was found in their bag.

“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,” Senator Watt said.

“Australia is FMD-free, and we want it to stay that way.”

Detector dog Zinta on duty at Darwin Airport. Photo: Supplied
The seized meat products will be tested for foot and mouth disease before being destroyed.

The passenger was fined for failing to declare potential high biosecurity risk items and providing a false and misleading document.

“Biosecurity is no joke – it helps protect jobs, our farms, food and supports the economy,” Senator Watt said.

“Passengers who choose to travel need to make sure they are fulfilling the conditions to enter Australia, by following all biosecurity measures.”

Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that affects cloven-hooved animals. There has been no outbreak of the disease in Australia for about a century – but authorities estimate any detection of the disease here would bring an $80 billion hit to the national agriculture industry.

Indonesia reported its first case of FMD in May, with detections in Bali following quickly. In June, the federal government announced a new $14 million biosecurity package to deliver more frontline defences in mail centres and airports.

As of July 27, Indonesia had reported almost 429,000 cases.

This story was first published in The New Daily

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