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TSA releases a menu of food items that can be carried through checkpoints, and which foods need to be checked with luggage

The agency says solid items can go through checkpoints, but if you can spill, spread, spray, pump, or pour it, it should go in a checked bag.
Credit: Transportation Security Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The Transportation Security Administration on Monday issued a reminder to those who are traveling for Thanksgiving: Before you agree to bring a family favorite food item 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 family or friends. 

Most foods can be carried through a TSA checkpoint, but there are some items that will need to be transported in checked baggage, the agency says.

If it’s a solid item, then it can go through a checkpoint, according to the TSA. 

But 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, the TSA says.

"Food items often need some additional security screening, so TSA recommends placing those items in a clear plastic bag or other container when packing them at home and then removing those items from your carry-on bag and placing them in a bin for screening at the checkpoint," the agency said in a press release. 

Travelers who are unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on or checked bag can check the TSA homepage, which has a helpful “What can I bring?” feature. 

Here are examples of the most commonly asked questions about which food items are permissible through a checkpoint and which ones need to get packed in checked baggage, according to the TSA. It is also important to remember food safety by storing the food properly while traveling to prevent foodborne illness. If you need to keep items cold during your trip, ice packs are permissible, but they must be frozen solid and not melted when they go through security screening. 

Credit: Transportation Security Administration

Thanksgiving foods that can be carried through a TSA checkpoint

  • Baked goods. Homemade or store-bought pies, cakes, cookies, brownies and other sweet treats
  • Meats. Turkey, chicken, ham, steak. Frozen, cooked or uncooked
  • Stuffing. Cooked, uncooked, in a box or in a bag
  • Casseroles. Traditional green beans and onion straws or something more exotic
  • Mac ‘n Cheese. Cooked in a pan or traveling with the ingredients to cook it at your destination,
  • Fresh vegetables. Potatoes, yams, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, radishes, carrots, squash, greens
  • Fresh fruit. Apples, pears, pineapple, lemons, limes, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, kiwi 
  • Candy.
  • Spices.
Credit: Transportation Security Administration

Thanksgiving foods that should be carefully packed with your checked baggage

  • Cranberry sauce. Homemade or canned are spreadable, so check them.
  • Gravy. Homemade or in a jar/can.
  • Wine, champagne, sparking apple cider.
  • Canned fruit or vegetables. It’s got liquid in the can, so check them.
  • Preserves, jams and jellies. They are spreadable, so best to check them.
  • Maple syrup.