TSA-Approved Foods You Can Bring Through Security
If you are not flying first class or internationally, the chances of having a full meal on your next flight are very low. That means you need to pack your own snacks because it's unlikely that a scant bag of pretzels or those sugary stroopwafels served free-of-charge during flight will stand a chance against the hunger pangs that cause turbulence in your stomach. Oh, and if you fly with a budget airline, you should not expect snacks to be distributed for free.
The solution: pack your own travel snacks. If you go down that path, you have an additional challenge in determining which foods are TSA compliant. You do not want your home-made hummus or glass of organic peanut butter to be thrown into the dustbin for safety, right?
We have dug up what food you can get by the airport security and which are on the no-fly list. We are also consulted by registered dieticians to get some healthy snack ideas for your next flight.
Which foods are TSA approved?
In general, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) applies the same "fluid rule" to your foodstuffs as your cosmetics. That means you could technically pack chicken noodle soup – but just like your perfume, you do not have to limit it to more than 10 grams, and that's probably not going to be enough soup to stop you.
But what exactly is a liquid according to TSA? You know that bone marrow clearly falls into this category, but TSA also considers foods with thicker consistencies (think of creamy dressings or yoghurt) as liquids.
Here are the foods that you need to limit to 3.4 ounces if you want to continue, to ensure safety:
- cream cheese
- Creamy dips and spreads
- ice cream
- Jam and jelly
- maple syrup
- Oils and vinegars
- peanut butter
- Pet food, wet
- Salad sauce
- Salsas and sauces
Let's take a closer look: sandwiches and salads are alright. So it should not be a problem if you have a little over 9g of peanut butter on your PB & Js or have gone crazy with the oil and vinegar on a giant salad. As long as these things are not in larger quantities than 3.4 ounces in separate containers, you should be ready.
While vegetables or whole fruits are usually great, healthy snack ideas, you can not package them if you fly from Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands to mainland US, as there is a risk of invasive plants spreading pests , according to TSA.
But here's a well-to-know hack: If you have questions about whether your food overcomes safety, you can just take a photo of your food and ask TSA officials via Facebook Messenger or Twitter,
Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, living lobsters get green light from TSA, but the airline might forbid them to board the flight.
What about flying with baby food and baby food?
When traveling with small children or bringing breast milk, TSA has some exceptions, as it is the fluid rule.
For example, with TSA, you can do the following: baby food, baby food, breast milk, and juice. The 3.4 ounce rule does not apply to these foods; Rather, TSA says it is allowed in "reasonable amounts," but does not become more specific. You do not have to travel with your children to bring breast milk, formula or juice for children according to the TSA rules. However, you must remove these items for separate review.
So pack your food for a flight
Solid foods can be packaged in your checked bags or carry-on bag. Liquid or "gelatinous foods" in quantities of less than 3.4 ounces are allowed in your carry-on carriers. However, if they exceed this weight limit and if this makes sense for food safety reasons, they must be stored in your checked-in porters.
TSA loves tidying and storing your carry-on bags, as it simplifies the screening process and helps with linework. If you want to travel with food, it's best if you can easily separate your groceries from your carry-on luggage.
However, keep in mind that your snacks may be subject to some control even if you do your homework and follow all the rules set by TSA.
Most TSA approved travel containers are for toiletries and cosmetics, but some, like these BPA-free silicone bottles, are said to be able to carry sauces.
CONNECTED: Simple, healthy recipe ideas with 350 calories that you can make at home.
Healthy snacks to take away
After finding out which foods are TSA-compliant, you're ready for your next challenge: Pack healthy snacks for your flight.
Here are some snacks that Hillary Cecere, RDN of Eat Clean Bro, a meal delivery service, and St. Louis-based dietician Kim Yawitz, RD, LD, recommend traveling:
fruit and vegetables
"Oranges provide about half a cup of water and a good dose of potassium – both of which help prevent swelling after the flight," says Yawitz. Not to mention that a medium orange contains about 3 grams of fiber, which you can keep on a regular basis when traveling. Cecere recommends the following fruits and vegetables that travel well:
- Baby carrots
She also suggests unsweetened applesauce packs, but you'll probably need to pack your own or find some in a shop in the hall, since most of the shop-bought cups come in 4-ounce packs.
Nuts and nut butter packs
Only one ounce of almonds provides a filling combination of healthy fats, proteins, and fiber – all great for tackling travelers, says Yawitz. "They're also a good source of magnesium that can ward off muscle spasms and headaches," says Yawitz. Choose unsalted, raw nuts, if possible, because sodium dries out, says Cecere. She also suggests nut butters like Justin's almond butter packets. With 1.5 ounces they are TSA-approved and, according to Cecere, perfect for combining with whole-grain crackers or a banana. You may want to eat at Nusssnacks Gate, but if a passenger with nut allergies is on your flight.
"My choices are RX bars, larabars or KIND bars," says Cecere. They are made from whole-ingredient ingredients such as dates, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. "You can easily find it at the airport if you forget your snacks.
While you can not get your yogurt parfait through TSA when it's more than 3.4 ounces, airports usually have yogurt in most places to go, says Cecere. "Yogurt is fantastic because it contains probiotics that are good for immunity and digestion," she says. "I always look for Greek yogurt, preferably simple, that contains more protein and less sugar."
Sandwiches are always a safe bet when traveling. The key here is to load it with vegetables as many of these healthy sandwich recipes do.
You could bring your own packaged oatmeal, but finding a microwave would be difficult. According to Cecere, most cafés at airports offer hot oatmeal. "Oatmeal is a great option for a high-fiber breakfast and can help prevent constipation and flatulence that can occur while traveling," she says.
A salad based on quinoa, barley or farro is better than a salad on a salad basis because it does not wilt. Load it with vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and olives and top it with a fat cheese like crushed feta or lean protein like tuna or chicken. It will fill you up without causing any indigestion.
Stay moist in the aircraft
Last but not least, you want to make sure that you are hydrated on board! You can absolutely pack an empty water bottle and fill it up completely once you have gone through the security check.
"The dry cabin air in aircraft increases the likelihood of dehydration and congestion, upper respiratory tract failure, fluid retention, jet lag, and other discomfort," explains Yawitz. Not exactly what should happen to your body when you go on vacation!
You may have heard of celebs sprinkling ginger or herb bottles on their water bottles and asking flight attendants to refill their water-filled bottles. If it helps you consume more H2O, then great! But, says Yawitz, you can get more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants just by eating whole fruits and vegetables or sprinkling your salad with a few herbs.