US Customs Fines Woman $500 For Undeclared Airline Apple

Security overreach? Or a rotten technicality?

By Ethan L. Johns
April 24, 2018

Image: Isabelle Rozenbaum/Getty Images

If you were wondering whether you actually have to declare those souvenir snacks you picked up while on vacation, this should be enough to motivate you.

One Colorado woman was slapped with a $500 customs fine last week after she failed to declare an apple distributed by her airline on a flight from France.

Crystal Tadlock was traveling back from Paris when, as is common on planes, a Delta attendant handed her a snack in the form of an apple. She wasn’t feeling so hungry, so—like a good food waste warrior—she put the apple in her bag to save for later.

When the plane landed, she headed for the Global Entry line—a cut-the-line program for low-risk travelers, which she had applied for and just been awarded.

Thinking nothing of the apple, she completed her declaration form and passed through into the U.S., where she was stopped and randomly searched by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent.

“He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, ‘Yeah,’” Tadlock told FOX31 Denver. “I didn’t really get why he was asking that question, and then he said ‘It’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500.’”

Since all food items must be declared, the agent wrote her up a $500 ticket for her apple, despite the fact that it was wrapped in a plastic Delta bag. The incident also has led to her Global Entry status being revoked.

Tadlock plans to contest the ticket in court, and has declined outside offers from incensed news readers to pay for her fine.

So next time you fly to the U.S., if you’re not sure whether or not to declare something, just do it. Because who cares about privacy, anyway?

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns