The TSA Would Like To Screen Your Snacks Now

The Transportation Security Administration's procedures are shrouded in mystery for me. When did we stop having to remove our 3-ounce toiletry bags? When did we start having to place any electronic larger than a cell phone in a separate bin? Why is the agent asking to inspect my granola bars?

Flying this past weekend, I was screened behind a woman who was asked her remove the snacks from her bag. She bristled and defended her snacks: "I'm gluten-free," she said. "I need to bring my own snacks." The agent wasn't trying to confiscate the snacks; he just wanted her to place them in their own bin.

This is likely to become more common under a set of guidelines the TSA has been rolling out over the past year, reports. The TSA has said that food items can restrict screeners' view of the rest of the luggage, so agents may ask travelers to remove their pints of gravy or ham hocks or whatever.

A look at the TSA's list of restricted and permissible food items is pretty interesting, actually, and not always intuitive. For example, I would characterize hummus as a solid food, but the TSA lists hummus and peanut butter as restricted to 3-ounce containers, like liquids. (I once had a sealed jar of peanut butter confiscated from my carry-on on Tampa International Airport. Jerks.) From their list:

  • Alcohol? Fine as long as it's in less-than-3-ounce bottles.
  • Ice cream? Not okay in a carry-on.
  • Fresh eggs? Totally fine.
  • Pizza? Good to go.
  • Live lobster? Check with your airline, and then immediately send us a photo.