If some food you're bringing in is refused by quarantine, are they sometimes willing to let you eat it? Assume there isn't a massive queue behind you and the officer is in a good mood.

Background: I received some chocolates on Valentine's day in (no prizes for guessing!) Japan, and I'm returning to Australia. Chocolates should be pretty safe, though.

  • 26
    For some reason reading this question's title made me wonder if you were considering raiding the quarantine bin...
    – Mark Mayo
    Feb 26, 2012 at 9:51
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    I've been specifically told multiple times when returning to Australia that chocolate is indeed fine. Feb 26, 2012 at 12:39
  • 1
    Related question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/10930/… Dec 3, 2012 at 2:30
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    When arriving from Hong Kong a few weeks ago we were told not to declare packaged chocolates by a customs official. However the form says "any food".
    – WW.
    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:04
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    If in doubt, declare it - declaring isn't a "Please take this away" it's a "I have something that you might want to know about" - customs/border control then decide whether it's a problem or not.
    – Jon Story
    Dec 18, 2014 at 11:10

2 Answers 2


Obviously this is a question that could have very different answers depending on the specific country.

For your specific example of Australia, the official list of actions that can be taken for refused items are :

  • pay for the item to be treated to make it safe (for example fumigation, irradiation)
  • store the item at the airport for collection when you leave Australia
  • re–export the item or
  • have the item destroyed by AQIS.

So thus, no, eating the item is not an option - at least, not officially...

Unless there's something very special about them, importing chocolates into Australia is not a problem - just remember that you DO still need to declare them under the "Food" question.

  • 4
    There's this documentary / reality show called Border Security: Australia on Australian border control and they show on that eating is not allowed. The fine / fee for disposal is 200+ Australian dollars. Feb 26, 2012 at 11:00
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    There is no "fee for disposal" (See the URL I included for details on which of the options have fees). With the exception of things that are outright illegal (eg, drugs) the "fine" is generally only if you do not declare something, and then get caught with it. If you declare an item and it's deemed to be not allowed into the country, then there is no fine.
    – Doc
    Feb 26, 2012 at 11:15
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    Ah I see. I guess they never really clarified on that show that the goods are undeclared. Feb 27, 2012 at 0:36
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    Also any creams that contains honey or bee pollen. Australia and New Zealand are both very strict on food due to their strong and uncontaminated agriculture industries. At one point NZ wouldn't allow muddy shoes from people arriving from Britain due to fairs of CJD, I'm not sure if this is still the case.
    – Stuart
    Mar 2, 2012 at 14:21
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    uncontaminated? rabbits in Australia, rats in New Zealand...
    – jwenting
    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:49

No, you can't.

In the past (pre-Covid), I've applied for various jobs at Australian airports, and when I applied for a job as an aircraft cleaner, I was told in no uncertain terms by the person interviewing me that eating or drinking any items left on the plane was strictly forbidden by Australian Customs, as they hadn't passed through Customs, so doing so would count as a breach of quarantine. Anyone who did so would face a fine of thousands of dollars, months of jail time, or both. This is something that they had personally seen happen, after one cleaner opened and drank a can of soda that had been left on the plane.

  • 1
    There is a big difference between eating your own food instead of importing it and eating someone else's food they have left behind. Jun 1, 2021 at 16:06

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