'I didn't think I'd done anything wrong': Woman gets $2,500 fine for bringing half-eaten sandwich from Singapore to Australia

Jessica Lee was fined A$2,664 for bringing a Subway sandwich from Singapore to Australia.
PHOTO: TikTok/Jessica Lee

[Update July 20] Days after Lee shared about her sandwich issue, Subway Australia "worked their magic".

Lee revealed in a TikTok video on Tuesday (July 19) that the fast food chain sent her a package containing a A$2,664 (S$2,534) gift card, along with some Subway merchandise.

"We hope this covers your chicken and lettuce needs," the company wrote.

@_jessicaleeee Replying to @subwayaustralia ARE YOU KIDDING?! 😩😻😻 basically free subs for a year #fyp #subwayfine #subway #eatfresh ♬ original sound - Jessica Lee

Paying $2,534 for a sandwich might seem ridiculous, but that's what one woman had to do after bringing her half-eaten meal from Singapore to Australia. 

Jessica Lee, an Australian, first recounted the incident in a TikTok video on July 1. Lee explained she had bought a foot-long Subway sandwich while transiting through Changi Airport, ate half of it and saved the remaining half to eat on the flight home. 

Lee ended up not finishing her food on the plane. 

@_jessicaleeee Australian government tings 🥰🥰 starting that OF back up again to SURVIVE the next few months #fyp #australia #subway #boujee ♬ original sound - Jessica Lee

Exhausted from long hours of travel, the woman didn't realise she had to declare that she had the sandwich with her as she landed in Australia. 

According to the Australian Border Force, food items brought into Australia have to be declared on one's incoming passenger card and they might also be inspected by biosecurity officers.

For her carelessness, authorities slapped Lee with a A$2,664 (S$2,534) fine. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/Australian Border Force

A spokesperson from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Australia told News.com.au that travellers who fail to declare or make false declarations may face a fine of up to A$2,664 for breaching the Biosecurity Act.

“All meat products and vegetables must be declared on the Incoming Passenger Card. This is a legal declaration," they said. 

According to the spokesperson, all airlines broadcast mandatory biosecurity messaging in-flight before landing that "highlight things of biosecurity risk, the need to declare food and ingredients, and to leave all food on-board."

Similar messages are also found in the arrival areas of Australian airports. 

In another video posted on July 17, Lee further explained how Australian immigration officers discovered her sandwich. 

As her boyfriend purchased cigars, the couple had to declare the items to immigration officers, who also checked the rest of their bags for food. 

@_jessicaleeee

 

♬ original sound - Jessica Lee

Lee claimed that one of the officers who saw the sandwich even joked with her and asked if she was "saving that for dinner". 

"I didn't think I'd done anything wrong," she said. 

All seemed to be going well until a biosecurity officer came and "interrogated" Lee. He asked if she had filled out the declaration form correctly before pointing out that her sandwich contained fresh produce. 

"It literally did not occur to me that my Subway had chicken and lettuce in it, which is fresh produce," Lee said in her video. 

@_jessicaleeee Reply to @velarisandlevi ♬ original sound - Jessica Lee

Lee's first TikTok video has since garnered over 695,000 views and more than 800 comments. Although frustrated by the hefty fine, she admitted that it was an oversight on her part. 

"I am very aware this is my mistake and I do take ownership, I am paying the fine. Just an emotional video." 

Other TikTok users sympathised with the woman's predicament, and said that she shouldn't have to fork out that much money for such an oversight. 

"[I don't know] why they didn't give you a warning and just throw it out," one wrote. 

Another netizen suggested that Lee write in to the authorities to appeal the fine. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok

The fine might have burnt a hole in Lee's pocket, but help might just be on the way. 

On July 14, Domino's Australia tagged Subway Australia in Lee's video, urging the latter to help the woman. 

"We are working some magic," Subway Australia replied. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok

At the time of writing, it is unclear if Subway Australia has managed to help her. 

claudiatan@asiaone.com