April 13, 2024
Flying with Thanksgiving food? TSA dishes rules for traveling with foodstuffs

Flying with Thanksgiving food? TSA dishes rules for traveling with foodstuffs

As millions of Americans box up their leftovers after the Memorial Day holiday, they may be wondering what they should do with all that food.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently put out guidelines on what items — specifically foodstuffs — can and cannot be brought through its checkpoints.

“ “If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag.””

— TSA rules on flying with food

“Here’s some food for thought. If it’s a solid item, then it can go through a checkpoint,” the TSA said in its statement. “However, if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag.”

It will also be an issue in the months ahead: 85% of Americans plan to travel this summer, according to the annual “Summer Travel Survey & Trends 2023” report by The Vacationer.

Here are some examples of items that the TSA will allow in a carry-on and of items that must be in a checked bag.

Related: Memorial Day barbecue prices sizzle — the cost of one essential soars 28%

Food you can carry on

  • Baked goods, including homemade or store-bought pies, cakes, cookies and brownies.
  • Meats, such as turkey, chicken, ham and steak — frozen, cooked or uncooked.
  • Stuffing, cooked or uncooked, in a box or in a bag.
  • Casseroles, such as traditional green beans and onion straws, or something more exotic.
  • Macaroni and cheese, whether it’s already cooked in a pan, or you’re traveling with the ingredients to cook it at your destination.
  • Fresh vegetables, like potatoes, yams, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radishes, carrots, squash and greens.
  • Fresh fruit, such as apples, pears, pineapple, lemons, limes, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas and kiwi. 
  • Candy.
  • Spices.

Food that must travel in a checked bag

  • Cranberry sauce, including homemade or canned sauces that are spreadable.
  • Gravy, including homemade or gravy that comes in a jar or can.
  • Wine, champagne and sparking apple cider.
  • Canned fruit or vegetables, as they have liquid in the can.
  • Preserves, jams and jellies, since they are also spreadable.
  • Maple syrup.

Keep in mind that the TSA maintains an entire list of items that travelers are allowed to bring on flights year-round under the “What can I bring?” section of its website. Additionally, there is an official TSA Twitter account called @AskTSA that responds to most tweets about what items can be moved through security, answering between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time.

So why the rules around food? It’s an ongoing problem. The TSA recently created a viral post detailing a situation in which a traveler attempted to conceal a gun inside a raw chicken. Guns are not permitted as a carry-on and are only allowed in checked bags if certain safety precautions are taken.

(This story was updated on May 29, 2023.)

Also read: Gas will be much cheaper this Memorial Day Weekend. Now, for the bad news.

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