By Melissa Garcia

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman in Arvada plans to fight in court against a $500 fine that she received for bringing a sliced apple through Customs.

apple Colorado Woman Fined $500 At Customs Checkpoint For Sliced Apple

(credit: CBS)

Crystal Tadlock was on her way back to Denver International Airport from France last week. When she stopped over in Minnesota to change planes, her sweet trip turned sour.

When she won a trip to the Grey Goose castle in Paris, she did not know that the free French vacation would come with a hefty price tag, all because of an apple in a Delta Air Lines baggie that was provided by the airline on her way back to the United States.

bag Colorado Woman Fined $500 At Customs Checkpoint For Sliced Apple

Crystal Tadlock shows the bag she had the apple in. (credit: CBS)

Not wanting to waste fresh food, Tadlock said she shoved the slices into her carry-on bag and forgot they were there. Minutes later came an unpleasant encounter with the customs agent who checked her bag and found the fruit in a little plastic bag.

“He aggressively ripped open the bottom,” Tadlock told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “He was like ‘Apple, boom. That’s going to be $500. Take a seat,; … I apologized for having the apple and offered to throw it away … and it just wasn’t an option.”

interview 2 Colorado Woman Fined $500 At Customs Checkpoint For Sliced Apple

(credit: CBS)

The frequent traveler says that what’s worse for her than the steep fine is the loss of her global pre-check status.

“I came along with my apple, and he wanted to fine me $500, and essentially my global entry was revoked,” Tadlock said. “My advice for Delta would be don’t give out produce.”

interview2 Colorado Woman Fined $500 At Customs Checkpoint For Sliced Apple

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Tadlock. (credit: CBS)

A Delta spokesperson responded to a request for comment with the following statement:

“We recommend passengers always comply fully with Customs and Border Protection rules and regulations. The apple in question was part of an in-flight meal meant to be consumed on the aircraft.”

customs Colorado Woman Fined $500 At Customs Checkpoint For Sliced Apple

(credit: Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

An agent with Customs and Border Protection provided this comment:

Privacy policy prohibits CBP from discussing the details of any individuals specific inspection, however all agriculture items must be declared.

Prohibited items that are not declared by a passenger are confiscated and disposed of by CBP. More importantly, civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to $1,000 per first-time offense for non-commercial quantities. If the items are determined to be for commercial use, violations will be assessed at a much higher rate.

A special section of the U.S. Customs And Border Protection website lists more information about agricultural items on flights.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

Comments (8)
  1. Are we all safer now? The easy and obvious solution to just throw away the sliced apple when it was discovered is somehow too radical for the agent to consider? Oh good grief.

  2. Bill Seamon says:

    Wow, another TSA agent showing who is in control. Why fly, especially for vacation. Take your car, or the train and see our country. The terrorists won, just by causing TSA to be formed.

  3. This is what the brainless dead are employed to do lest a benign apple probably carried from the U.S. and comes back to ruin the entire agricultural industry in the U.S.due to the pests it might be hiding. The fruit police at its best.

  4. This is kind of a grey area… was the apple sourced in the USA? Did she declare that she had food? I had a similar thing happen to me yesterday, but didn’t encounter any issues. I asked the person at Customs if I had to declare food received on the plane. He said, “No, you don’t. You may proceed.” I wish we knew a little bit more regarding the interaction between her and Customs and whether or not she declared she possessed food before the apple was confiscated. I think the biggest concern at Customs regarding fruit are the seeds and insects. If there were no seeds, dissected fruit usually isn’t a problem. Once, I brought an avocado from mexico with pit removed from Mexico – Customs was totally OK with that. The country of origin is also a biggie. A specific food may be banned from entry if it originates from one country, but perfectly acceptable if it originates from another.

  5. As a frequent flyer, she would have known she needed to leave the fruit on the plane, eat it, or declare the fruit. That being said, however, the customs agent’s response was over the top – unless he was required to levy this particular action.

  6. Scott Clark says:

    the french president just brought a whole oak tree over and planted it.

  7. The “brainless dead” are employed to follow instructions – like they did – and not to choose which ones they do or do not want to enforce. This is the problem; if people don’t like the rules, vote those out who make them!!!!

  8. Carol Graham says:

    What a joke. Why would Delta give fruit as a snack, dah? I know there have been times when I didn’t eat my snack on the plane and just stuck in my bag also. This is absolutely crazy. Delta
    Airlines is totally wrong in this case, and so isn’t that agent for being so nasty. Were there other
    passengers who put their apples in their bags?? Somebody dropped the ball at Delta Airlines on international flights. They need to step up and right this whole thing. Why is it ok for some airlines and not others!!!??? HOW AWFUL!

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