Here Are All the Foods TSA Won’t Let You Bring Through Security

Plus a couple surprising permissible foods, including ... eggs?

What Food Can You Bring On an Airplane
By Tanner Garrity / October 18, 2019 6:33 am

In the past couple years, the TSA has given its officers the right to have passengers remove food from bags and screen it in a bin. As with most regulations in the airport security realm, this development came without much explanation or fanfare, catching harried travelers — including me — off guard.

I recently flew from Newark to San Francisco, and in my usual effort to cause as little a scene in the security line as possible, was balancing my sneakers, laptop, belt and phone in one palm as I approached the pile of bins. Then, an officer shouted a “reminder” to remove food and I had to dig for my bag of almonds. Thankfully, checking a pre-packaged snack from a carry-on is about as clear-cut as this process gets. But it can get tricky.

Thankfully, the TSA maintains a helpful list of non-permissible foodstuffs and drinks on its website. Here are the items you should either leave in the shop, or eat before heading to the airport:

  • Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof
  • Alcoholic beverages in excess of five liters per individual
  • Canned food
  • Olive oil
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh fruit or vegetables
  • Fresh meat or seafood
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Creamy cheese

Except for alcohol over 140 proof, which is just flat-out banned, any liquid above (from canned goods to liquid-solids like creamy cheese or peanut butter) can be transported in a checked bag. Just make sure to study the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule here. Meanwhile, fresh fruits and vegetables need to be expertly packaged and non-crushed (otherwise they become a liquid) and fresh meat and seafood needs to be frozen completely.

As for foods you can stop worrying about? Food souvenir territory is actually pretty safe. Hard cheese, chocolate and spices are all fine, considering they’re in their original packaging, or vacuum-sealed. Cakes and sandwiches are fine too, surprisingly. When in doubt, just avoid liquids and make sure you don’t have a loose pile of bread sitting in your backpack.

Subscribe here for our weekly travel newsletter, The Journey.

Daily Brief

News From Around the Web

July 3, 2020 July 2, 2020