A good-luck charm carried by a traveller from China landed her with a hefty fine when she arrived in New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said on Tuesday

An MPI biosecurity detector dog sniffed out the tooth in a handbag carried by an air passenger arriving at Queenstown Airport, in the South Island, said officials with the MPI, which is responsible for biosecurity checks at New Zealands borders.

The woman’s companion explained it was a dog’s tooth bought at a store in rural China and the woman used it for luck when she flew.

However, MPI staff recognised that the large tooth was actually from a cow, MPI border clearance manager Andrew Spelman said in a statement.

“It looked way too big to be from a dog,” said Spelman

“The woman was fined 400 NZ dollars (R4 200) for failing to declare the item and had it explained to her that biosecurity was very important to New Zealand,” he said.

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“Under the worst case scenario the tooth could have been contaminated with foot-and-mouth disease, as China has had outbreaks of this devastating virus in the past. It could also have been carrying other diseases such as rabies, given its rural origin and the unknown circumstance of the cow’s death.”

New Zealand has strict biosecurity rules to protect its pillar agriculture sector and unique wildlife.

Travellers can receive instant fines if they fail to declare food and animal products or any other prohibited items on entering the country.

Author: ANA Newswire