Liquids, Laptops & Now Lunches: TSA Starts Screening Food

That had better be peanut butter inside those pretzel nuggets…

By Ethan L. Johns
April 02, 2018

Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Though it’s technically OK to bring a pastrami sandwich onto an airplane, your seatmates might not be too happy with you. And now, with TSA officers sticking their noses in new places, it might even cost you time in security lines.

Airline customers have recently been reporting new hassles at security checkpoints, as the TSA follows new recommendations dealing with food inspections, according to the Washington Post. While these are suggested recommendations and not official rules, it appears as though they are becoming more widespread, and are irking travelers in the process.

While the TSA allows most foods on planes—with the exception of liquid foods with volumes over 100 milliliters—it can be denied and tossed in a bin if it “triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with or poses other security concerns.”

One possible alarm can come from advanced scanners that detect “organic compounds” similar to those found in explosives. In the case of such an alert, agents have to manually inspect the bag, which slows down lines and makes everybody angry.

On a more sinister note, rumor has it that TSA agents take stock of the best snacks and confiscate the ones they’re craving (the agency, of course, prohibits this). One of GK’s own editors even experienced pizza profiling when agents wanted to take a peek at his parents’ tasty pie at a security check last week.

So the next time you try to bring your live lobster on a plane (yes, that is a permitted food, when carried in a “clear, plastic, spill proof container”), prepare to have it inspected, lest it break free on the plane and pinch everyone.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns