Wiggles the Caterpillar birthday cake sparks explosives alert at airport
by Julia Roberts
It was meant to be a surprise treat for his son's birthday
during a family holiday in Spain, but any planned surprise turned
to unexpected shock for father-of-three Justin Barrett - when the
chocolate cake in his hand luggage tested positive for
The Sainsbury's Wiggles the Caterpillar cake sparked a bizarre
security alert at Stansted Airport, which included the 41-year-old
from Meopham being searched and interrogated by customs
Mr Barrett, who ironically works in the security industry in
Dartford, had planned to surprise his son, Freddie, with the cake
for his ninth birthday in August.
His wife, Kathryn, also 41, had flown out to Spain a week
earlier with their three children and her parents.
Mr Barrett was due to fly out to Alicante to join his family and
had strict instructions not to forget the cake, which he had bought
from the Pepper Hill store and was still in its sealed box.
But it led to him coming under even stricter scrutiny from
officials when the cake revealed traces of explosives.
"I'd had the cake in my hand luggage and customs asked to check
inside after it had passed through the x-ray machine," explained Mr
"To the officer's surprise there was a chocolate Caterpillar
cake inside my bag. He then swabbed the inside of the bag and put
it into a little machine.
"That's when it ended up going bleep and the customs officer
said it had found traces of explosives.
"He then asked me if I had any contact with explosives or been
shooting lately. At that point I told him my job entailed working
"The officer swabbed all the items in my bag. Everything was
tested but it was just the cake box and my hands that were testing
positive for traces of explosives."
"I was worried they would want to test the cake itself and I'd have to explain a half-eaten cake to my son…” – Justin Barrett on his airport security experience
It was then that Mr Barrett was escorted into a private room
where, under the watchful gaze of customs officials and an armed
officer he had to remove clothing and hand over his passport for
After an anxious 40 minutes, Mr Barrett's details checked out
and the cause of the positive test is believed to have been the
plastic wrapping on the box.
"The customs guy said that acetate on certain wrappings often
showed up as explosives in their tests.
"To be honest, it was all very light-hearted and I totally
understand they had to follow their procedures.
"I was worried they would want to test the cake itself and I'd
have to explain a half-eaten cake to my son."
A Stansted Airport spokesman said: "Our security
officers are trained to be 100% certain as to the reason for any
activation during the security process and a more detailed search
and questioning may be required.
"While some completely innocent items can trigger the alarms,
our overriding priority has to be providing a safe and secure
airport for passengers and staff."
The incident has left Sainsbury's a little baffled.
A spokesman said: "This is the first time we have heard of this
kind of thing happening and we are investigating it.
"We're very sorry for the inconvenience this caused to our
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