Tips & News

All About That Massive McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwich Fine in Australia This Week

Two thousand bucks for breakfast isn't our idea of a happy meal. But Australia has strict import rules to protect its ecosystem. Here's why.

McDonald's australia fine

Photo by Luis Rosero/Pexels/Canva

By Alison Fox

Aug 4, 2022

A PASSENGER TRAVELING to Australia was hit with a fine of A$2,664 after they tried to bring a pair of McDonald’s egg-and-beef-sausage McMuffins into the country along with a ham croissant.

The passenger, who was traveling from Bali to Darwin in the Northern Territory, received a fine totaling the equivalent of US$1,849 for the undeclared McDonald’s mishap, according to the Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Undeclared FMD-risk products "McDonald's Egg McMuffin and pancakes," found by Zinta at Darwin airport mcdonald's australia fine
Undeclared FMD-risk products “McDonald’s Egg McMuffin and pancakes,” found by Zinta at Darwin airport. Courtesy of Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Australia has strict laws on what can and cannot be brought into the country. The country has also issued an alert and established Biosecurity Response Zones in international airports to monitor foot-and-mouth disease

The offending breakfast sandwiches were discovered by Zinta, a detector dog who responded to the passenger’s backpack.

“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 for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said in a statement.

“Australia is FMD-free, and we want it to stay that way. Zinta was placed at Darwin Airport as part of the Albanese Government’s tough new biosecurity defences, and it’s excellent to see she is already contributing to keeping the country safe.”

Detector Dog Zinta in Darwin with handler at Darwin airport mcdonald's australia fine
Detector dog Zinta in Darwin with handler at Darwin airport. Courtesy of Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Australia requires travelers to declare “risk” items like certain food (including cheese, honey and nuts), animal products, and plant material — and presumably McDonald’s sandwiches fall into at least one of these categories — otherwise they risk a fine.

“Some goods you buy overseas can carry a host of exotic pests and diseases. These can harm our environment and industries,” the country wrote in its guidance. “Avoid buying gifts and souvenirs that pose a risk to Australia. Also, be aware that some items you brought with you on your trip can get contaminated. Make sure it’s allowed before you bring it back.”

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Different countries have different rules when it comes to what is and what is not allowed. In the United States, travelers are required to declare all food products and failure to do so could result in a fine of up to US$10,000, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Meat, milk, eggs and poultry are generally prohibited or restricted.

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