Yes, You Can Bring Food Through TSA, But There Are Some Exceptions

While it might not happen every time you travel, you might occasionally need to bring food with you. Let's say you need a snack before your flight, or you're bringing something edible as a gift for a friend. You still need to know whether or not the food will get through TSA inspection. It's no wonder people have to pause to ask, since the limitations of what cannot go through a TSA checkpoint are pretty substantial. It's a tough moment to get stalled in the line and have something of yours confiscated because it falls on the prohibited list. Even with the perks of TSA PreCheck or Clear, you still have to adhere to the restrictions. 

Liquids, of course, are the trickiest to travel with because of size restrictions. Nothing can exceed the 3.4-ounce or 100-milliliter size allotment. That applies to gels, creams, aerosol containers, and pastes. And when these items are small enough, they still have to fit into a sealable plastic bag. However, many foods are transportable in carry-on bags, making travel easier, and even with the liquid rule, there are some exceptions.

Foods you're allowed to travel with

When preparing your carry-on suitcase for TSA, you can pack a variety of different foods that won't get confiscated during the security screening. Even open snacks are fine, so if you need to grab a bite before going through, feel free to do so, with a little caution. Sandwiches, fast food orders, and other airport bites are permissible to bring through with you. The catch, of course, is liquids. If you have a drink with you, you better finish it off quickly or be ready to go without until you pass through security. The same goes for any other liquid or gel substance. Yogurt, honey, oil, vinegar, and peanut butter cannot exceed the 3.4-ounce or 100-milliliter limit, since they qualify as a liquid or gel-like substance. Even creamy cheeses must be less than the allotted amount. 

So long as a food substance qualifies as solid, it's allowed. This includes bread, crackers, candy, and even cooked meat and seafood. You can even bring fresh eggs through security. Dry spices, dry tea, and ground coffee beans are also permissible. Amazingly, you can even travel with live lobster. It's advised that you confirm this prior with your airline, but so long as it's in a clear plastic container that's spill-proof, it should be totally fine.

Some notable exceptions

There are a few notable exceptions to the rules around liquids when going through security. Baby food, breast milk, and formula are allowed in quantities that exceed 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. Interestingly, the TSA notes that you don't even need your child with you to travel with these items. Inform the TSA agent that you're traveling with these items and remove them from your carry-on bag. The bottles or pouches can go through an X-ray machine, but you can request to have them tested for security purposes in other ways. 

There are a few other food and drink items of note. Alcohol that's greater than 70% ABV or 140 proof is not allowed in carry-on or checked baggage. Alcohol under this amount must be in unopened bottles up to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. If you purchase alcohol after getting through security, you're allowed to have up to five liters between 24% and 70% ABV or 48 to 140 proof on you. You are not permitted to drink the liquor on the plane.

If you're traveling with fresh meat and seafood and are using accompanying ice packs, these must be frozen when you pass through security. Melting ice packs are not allowed. Dry ice is also permitted, so long as it is limited to five pounds, and the container must be adequately vented.