To say that Australian authorities are serious about protecting their nation from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak would be an understatement.
Weeks after advising their citizens to leave their shoes behind after concluding trips to Indonesia (Bali, in particular), the Australian government fined a traveler AUD2,664 (about IDR26 million) over – wait for it – undeclared “two egg and beef sausage McMuffins from McDonalds in Bali and a ham croissant.”
The pork and beef products were sniffed out from said traveler’s backpack by Darwin’s new biosecurity detector dog, Zinta, at Darwin International Airport recently. According to the Australian Ministry of Agriculture’s official website, the seized meat products will be tested for the FMD virus before they are destroyed.
“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,” Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said, adding that he was pleased with Zinta the dog’s role in possibly preventing FMD from reaching the land Down Under.
“Australia is FMD-free, and we want it to stay that way,” he added.
Indonesia’s FMD outbreak began in May this year – decades after the eradication of the disease in 1986.
Last month, Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno, citing the Ministry of Health’s statement, said that FMD spread in Indonesia remains in check.
Minister Sandiaga particularly addressed Australia in his public announcement, stating that his department has communicated their precautionary measures to the neighboring country to reassure them that the disease is under control.
“We communicated our steps to Australia and all of the stakeholders to give a sense of security among travelers,” he said.