June Armstrong, a 77-year-old retiree from New Zealand, was flying to Brisbane, Australia in May when she forgot she had brought a sandwich with her. This is considered a biohazard to the country’s notoriously strict customs controls.
An elderly pensioner faced an expensive nightmare when she forgot her sandwich in her backpack while traveling abroad.
June Armstrong, 77, from New Zealand, picked up a muffin and a gluten-free chicken and lettuce sandwich at Christchurch Airport for an early morning flight in May. After eating the muffin, she completely forgot about the sealed sandwich and left it in her bag, planning to eat it again during the three and a half hour flight.
During the flight, the 77-year-old decided to doze off, so she didn’t have the urge to eat a sandwich. Even when she arrived at Australian customs, which is notoriously strict when it comes to groceries, she forgot she had it, so she forgot to declare it. It wasn’t until Australian Border Force officers checked her backpack that she realized the costly mistake she had made.
At the airport, she broke down in tears as she was handed an eye-watering £1,731 fine. “I sobbed and said, ‘$3,300 for a little sandwich?'” she told the New Zealand Herald.
She had the option of filing a dispute within the 28-day payment period, but only received an automatic response and ended up coughing up a large amount of money to miss the deadline.
“My husband kept saying, ‘Just pay it,’ and I said, ‘This is our pension, we can’t afford that.'” June is still appealing the fine, though. , she says the punishment is harsh and has a negative impact on her physical and mental health.
In a submission to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, she wrote: “I’ve been thinking about it day and night and now I’m on sleeping pills. I’m overwhelmed by how big this fine is and how much it will affect our lives. It has been” . She says the Australian authorities have not yet responded to her request and she is starting to give up on the fact that this fine may stand. Instead, she hopes her own experience will help others avoid making the same mistakes.
“I’ve been saying I should let it go, and my husband should let it go, but they haven’t given me any answers,” Armstrong said. “Everyone I’ve offered fines to has been stunned and can’t believe it.” added. ” According to Australian customs regulations, food transported to Australia must be declared on an immigration card.
The ABF website explains: “Biosecurity personnel may need to inspect some food items brought in.” Bakery products are allowed to be brought in for personal consumption, but there are problems if they contain meat or canned animal products, Mail Online reports. Travelers who fail to declare items that pose a “high level of biosecurity risk” could be fined $3,756, depending on the “product risk.”