TSA Issues New Alert on What Food You Can’t Pack in Carry-On

Airport security: It’s a term that can be anxiety-inducing for even the most seasoned travelers. Scheduling your airport arrival is crucial to ensure you have enough time to get through the line, but you also have to consider what you can and can’t bring with you. As it turns out, you’ll want to take extra precautions when it comes to your personal item and carry-on during the already stressful holiday travel season, according to a new alert from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Read on to find out what the agency just said you can’t carry through security.

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tsa airport security precheck
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TSA regularly updates its policies, but especially in the fall and winter months. The goal is to make the process a bit easier for travelers during the hectic holidays.

The agency recently made adjustments to its PreCheck program, announcing that current provider IDEMIA had slashed enrollment and in-person renewal fees. According to a Nov. 4 press release, registration will now cost you $75 per person instead of $85.

The change was made to encourage enrollment and speed up the screening process, but long lines aren’t the only concern in the coming months. With Thanksgiving only a week away, TSA is now issuing alerts for people traveling to celebrate with loved ones—especially those responsible for preparing certain appetizers and dishes.

“Before you agree to bring a family favorite food to contribute to the Thanksgiving holiday table, it’s important to think about how you’re planning to transport it if you are flying to spend the holiday with friends and family,” a Nov. 16 press-release reads.

jar of cranberry sauce
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Thankfully, the same general rules apply to Thanksgiving items as they would to any other kind of food. “Here’s some food for thought,” TSA wrote in the press release. “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.”

This includes several sides and sauces, namely preserves, jams, and jellies, which are all spreadable, and maple syrup, which can be poured. Staples like cranberry sauce and gravy are also no-nos for your carry-on, regardless of whether they’re in a jar or can.

You’re probably know that you’ll be forced to toss any wine, champagne, or sparkling apple cider at security, but there’s a tricky one that could get you flagged at the checkpoint—canned fruits or vegetables. “It’s got liquid in the can, so check them,” TSA said.

If you do need to bring these items in your checked luggage, TSA added that they “should be carefully packed.”

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thanksgiving turkey
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As far as things that can be taken through security, there’s another rule of thumb to use. “If it’s a solid item, then it can go through a checkpoint,” the agency stated. These include baked goods, like your typical pies, cookies, or “other sweet treats”; stuffing; casseroles; and macaroni and cheese—all of which can be cooked or uncooked. Fresh fruits and vegetables are okay as well, as are candy and spices.

If you’re in charge of the big kahuna—the Thanksgiving turkey—TSA confirmed it’s OK in your carry-on. Other frozen, cooked, and uncooked meats in general are permitted, too, including chicken, ham, and steak.

family eating thanksgiving dinner
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TSA added an extra note of caution for these items, as they can be tricky to transport.

“Food items often need some additional security screening, so it is best to place those items in an easily accessible location of the carry-on when packing them and then removing those items from your bag and placing them in a bin for screening at the checkpoint ,” the press release reads. You can use ice packs to ensure frozen foods stay frozen (and free of foodborne illness), but the ice packs have to be “frozen solid” and cannot be melting when you get to the checkpoint.

For additional clarification on what should go in your carry-on versus checked luggage, you can use the “What Can I Bring?” tool on TSA’s website. There, you can search for specific items, and the system will let you know where the food needs to be packed. You can also pose questions to @AskTSA on Twitter or reach out to the agency via Facebook Messenger.

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