A Big List Of Foods That You Can Bring Through Airport Security

The Transportation Security Administration is very clear on what types of foods you can and can not bring onto an airplane, but most people think that the “liquid” ban extends to cheeseburgers. Not so.



The TSA’s only restrictions are that any food items brought through security must be either be whole, natural foods (like an orange), or be in placed in a container or otherwise wrapped up. All food must be X-rayed.

The food items that are specifically prohibited are as follows:

  • Gravy
  • Salad dressing
  • Oils and vinegars
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Soups
  • Creamy dips
  • Wine, liquor and beer
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Salsa
  • Sauces
  • Maple syrup
  • Any beverage that you didn’t buy at a duty-free shop
  • Gift baskets that include any of the above prohibited items

Here’s a big list of food you can bring through airport security:

  • Cakes (subject to additional inspection)
  • Pies (subject to additional inspection)
  • Sandwiches (wrapped)
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Sliced fruit (wrapped or in a container)
  • Firm Cheese (wrapped)
  • Meat (wrapped)
  • Candy
  • Gum
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Pastries

…and more!

For example:

  • An unwrapped cheeseburger with fries and a big container of ketchup would not be allowed past security because a) The food is not wrapped. b) Ketchup is a gel.
  • A wrapped turkey sandwich with a small bag of potato chips would pass security because a) the food is wrapped b) there are no gels in large quantities.

    Pies and cakes are allowed, but are subject “additional screening.” This might be TSA code for “we will harass you, then eat your delicious pie.”

We can’t guarantee that some rogue TSA agent won’t give you a hard time for trying to bring your apples and pretzels to the gate, but according to the letter of the law, you’re allowed.

Traveling with Food or Gifts [TSA]
3-1-1 Liquids Rule [TSA]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Falconfire says:

    ok its been well over 2 years since people PROVED that it was impossible to mix up a explosive in large quantities (ie enough to significantly damage or even bring down a plane) yet we are STILL allowing the TSA to pull this bullshit on us?

  2. Eric1285 says:

    I don’t know, I could pretty easily extract all the liquids from an apple or orange and inject it with something much more dangerous. To the naked eye, it would look like a regular piece of fruit. Then, assuming you filled it with explosive liquid, you could set it off with some of the wiring inside any of the electronics they do let you bring on board.

    TSA is full of idiots. Instead of banning items, they should just have better, more efficient screening. That, and they should profile everyone.

  3. vladthepaler says:

    I’m just happy the TSA hasn’t figured out that I contain a large quantity of liquid blood. It’d suck to have to pour it all out before passing through security.

    Also, I’m meat, but I suppose my clothes must count as wrapping.

  4. savvy999 says:

    Why should foods be ‘whole’?

    Wouldn’t a half-eaten burrito be excellent proof that it is indeed a tasty serving of tex-mex, rather than a deadly tube of Semtex?

  5. clevershark says:

    You guys should be thankful no one’s tried to sneak an underwear bomb into an airplane yet, or created chatter on AQ channels about such a bomb. That would no doubt trigger the occurrence of the “fly naked” days. THEN you can really tell the “first class” passengers from the “coach” ones, in a manner of speaking.

  6. vlv723 says:

    I hope we get rid of this clueless, classless, and corrupted organization called the Transport Security Administration and go back when private companies used to screen us before entering the gates.

    Well, I don’t think it’s going to happen because once a government department is formed, it will stay forever.

  7. CurbRunner says:

    @Eric1285: said “they should profile everyone”.

    It is most likely that they now profile everyone.
    The terrorists have already won on that point by forcing this element of fascism to be used along with all the other fascist elements that now flow from it.

  8. ExecutorElassus says:

    Wait a minute… it says I can bring “meat (wrapped)”? As in, nobody would raise the alarm if I showed up at the security gates with carry-on full of, say, raw meat in butcher paper? And there’s not enough jelly in a pie to bring down a plane, but there is in a ketchup packet?

    This stuff is just plain stupid sometimes.

  9. Veeber says:

    What do they mean by suspect to additional inspection. If I start bringing cakes with me onto the plane am I going to have to get one twice as big to make sure enough of it makes it to my destination?

  10. jamesdenver says:

    Turkey Sandwich?

  11. clevershark says:

    Personally I’m highly suspicious of a security organization that has such highly-enforced rules to counter a threat that is already proven to be bogus, but can’t detect actual explosives placed in luggage during tests with a more than 20% success rate even when they’ve been warned about those tests happening.

  12. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @ExecutorElassus: This liquid ban is just fucking stupid. What’s to stop 20 terrorists from combining their individual 3 ounces on the plane and having (gasp) 60 ounces of deadly mouthwash/shampoo/hair gel/etc. ???
    Like George Carlin said, just another way for them to fuck with you.

  13. darkened says:

    So in other words carry a pie when you’re smuggling drugs so they’re too busy inspecting your pie to notice your legs are the size of tree trunks from all the cocaine tapped inside of your pants.

  14. Electroqueen says:

    Darn! I can’t bring my nitro laced catsup on board?!

  15. cmdr.sass says:

    Judging by the TSA screeners I’ve seen, they must spend a lot of their free time subjecting cakes and pies to additional inspection.

  16. char says:

    It’s CYAS (cover your ass security), don’t actually do anything, but make it LOOK like you are responding to the threat.

  17. darkened says:

    @doctor_cos: Because that’d imply some in the TSA could think coherently past their pie induced comas.

  18. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Can we do like Steve Martin and put bologna in our shoes (that way we feel funny)?

  19. darkened says:

    Looks like I’m going to need to start carrying my dynamite stuffed Bananas again.

  20. MexiFinn says:

    No gravy?!?! Bitches!

    In all honesty, perfect timing on this article since I have about a 4 hour flight tonight… now, if only I can figure out how to lace my turkey sandwich with plenty of scotch so I don’t have to buy a drink on the plane…

  21. Falconfire says:

    @darkened: And your comment actually credits them with thinking coherently in the first place…. I have seen high school dropouts more capable than the idiots they have “security checking.”

    I think the only prerequisite of becoming a TSA agent is to fail the mall security test and have a 1st grade reading comprehension level.

  22. qwickone says:

    @savvy999: i think “whole” refers to the natural foods like oranges

  23. bluesunburn says:

    TexMex Semtex. Brilliant!

  24. siblog says:

    “Specifically Prohibited… Wine, liquor and beer”
    I am not sure if this is entirely true since I just recently (in the past 3 months) carried on a bunch of Vodka shooters (less than 3 oz) in a quart sized bag ;-)

  25. Chairman-Meow says:

    The Bastards are denying Maple Syrup too ?

    This is truly insane …Someone call the RCMP!!!!

  26. Chairman-Meow says:

    Gee, good thing the terrorists wouldn’t try something clever, like, oh say, be hired by the catering contractor and smuggle bad things onboard aircraft via delivery vehicles that are NOT checked at the tarmac.

    I’m sure the TSA is foiling all of their plots by all of these security theater gimmicks.

  27. we saw a local story claiming someone got their pumpkin pie confiscated because pumpkin pie filling is apparently the same consistency as some form of explosive. I’m guessing that’s where the “additional screening” comes in. That and those sneaky, sneaky top crusts that can hide all manner of things!

  28. youbastid says:

    Glad to know my pies are no longer the terrorist threat they were made out to be. Sure, I’ll be subject to additional inspection, but at least I will no longer be classified as an enemy combatant.

  29. clevershark says:

    The biggest part of the problem is that the TSA screening is a federal job paid on federal wage scales, which is based on some sort of nationwide cost of living average — but major airports are always based in major cities where the cost of living is much higher. So the people the TSA ends up attracting are people who aren’t good enough for better employers to hire in the first place, for whatever reason.

    Having flown many a time through Newark I can tell you that quite a few of the TSA folks there are people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. In summer particularly (because of short sleeves) you see some TSA folks with tattoos on the inside of the elbow and forearm, which worries me as those types of tats are often obtained in order to camouflage syringe marks.

  30. Antediluvian says:

    [Banned:] Creamy dips
    [Permitted:] Firm Cheese (wrapped)

    Well, between that and the anti-sterno regs, my in-flight fondue party idea needs to be re-worked.

    Oh, any word on Cheez-wiz?

  31. SteveBMD says:

    No gravy????

    Oh the humanity!!!

  32. youbastid says:

    @SteveBMD: I believe Crystal Gravy may still be allowed, provided it’s in a 3oz or less jar.

  33. goodywitch says:

    BS…I had brought along a few solo (the thing you stick salsa in when you go to baja fresh) containers of chutney through security at LAX, and no one said a thing, and they were quite liquidy.

    Also, apparently long shards of broken glass is also safe to bring along also (found out the hard way, when we broke it, but didn’t know it was broken until we were home).

  34. famboozled says:

    I concur with Cleaversharks’ analysis of TSA wages. Like most things the Feds do, they hired a panel of overthinkers with doctorates and no experience to determine what they should be looking for in candidates.

    The TSA is largely a paper tiger in that this is a task that no-one wants. Prior to Kennedy being killed there was movement afoot to draft the Secret Circus into the FBI and make the FBI responsible for protection of POTUS. The prevaling thought was that it would extend Hoovers power base and therefore power/relevance.

    Then JFK was shot and the organization realized that this is task one cannot always be successful in and the blame is too much to bear politically so they backed off the idea.

    Same thing with the DEA. The DEA is substantively a branch of the FBI but not actually part of the FBI. Why? same reason, it is ‘war that cannot be won’.

    Governments usually call things that cannot be overcome but need to be addressed politically ‘a program’. Limited time, limited resource destined to quell a specific political need.

    I see the TSA as a hybrid of both of these trains of thought. The TSA is a program agency.

    1. The TSA WILL eventually fail in some meaningful way, it is just a matter of time. I hope that it does not fail ever, but in all likely-hood it will disappoint.

    Anything run by a government, staffed by human-beings who rely on machines to complete thier mission will fail from time-to-time.

    2. Consider this: did we really need to form a whole new agency to do the job the TSA does? I assert not it could have been put under any other legacy agency.

    Dollars to doughnuts the department heads saw this as an impossible task that will eventually fail and cost them personally in the form of political capital.

    I applaud the TSA and the Job they do everyday trying to keep us safe. They are walking the wall for all of us and much like cops, no one really wants them around, everyone thinks they can do a better job, and are quick to second guess, point fingers, and blame them. Not a tenable position.

    These folks literally have seconds to size you up, inspect your junk and make a call as to weather you are going to kill yourself and everyone around you in the next hour or two with out the benefit of a crystal ball or clarvoiance. A very tough task with no excuses accepted for failure.

    In my opinion, there is no such thing as ‘proven’ that something cannot be done. IT is only proven until someone actually does it. Also, if in fact you could do someting with gel, would you advertise that it was possible. I think I woul d justpublically say it cannot be done to disuade my enemy. I agree with the TSA and Err on the side of caution.

    I am in no way affiliated with the TSA, but ,I honor thier service and support thier overall mission.

  35. Rachacha says:

    But what about the turkey “slime” that shows up on your turkey coldcut sandwich? (See video) [consumerist.com]

  36. sir_eccles says:

    It can also depend on which airport you’re travelling from. My wife and I have on multiple occassions flown out of Kansas City with big boxes full of Gates BBQ ribs. They were well wrapped obviously. There was a brief discussion as to the amount of sauce on the ribs and whether it added up to enough to be a problem but they let it through after a careful x-ray with everyone watching and drooling.

    Using common sense and being polite to the TSA drones goes a long way.

  37. clevershark says:

    But why is it that the TSA is so terrible from a flyer’s point of view when compared with similar services in almost every other country, though?

    In Japan screeners say “excuse me, could you take off your shoes please?” In the USA they point at your feet and mutter “SHOES”. It’s not like the Japanese don’t fly. Japan sees LOTS of air traffic because the country is still seen as a sort of gateway (along with Hong Kong) for western travellers going to other parts of Asia. It’s that the Japanese employees know that a certain level of service is expected of them. FWIW the screeners’ English seemed a lot better in Japan than it does in most places in the US, where for some reason everyone seems to exaggerate their own accents to the point of incomprehension.

  38. Chairman-Meow says:

    I still loved that items are ok if “swapped”.

    I’m sure the rules on who can purchase a wrapping machine are as strict as those for transporting Plutonium

    oh wait, I guess not eh ? [packagingcenter.com]

  39. Pop Socket says:

    So the scene in Spinal Tap where Derek Small is smuggling a zucchini through security in his pants would be okay since its mostly solid and wrapped.

  40. loganmo says:

    OWNER: Uh, we don’t allow any outside syrups, jams or condiments in the restaurant. (To Jerry) And if I catch you in here with that again…I will confiscate it.

    JERRY: Well, I told my wife not to bring it.

  41. aka Cat says:

    Hang on, since when does a ketchup packet contain more than 3oz??

  42. DrGirlfriend says:

    TSA Trainer: What are some other examples of gels or liquids?

    TSA Trainee: A turkey sandwich?

    TSA Trainer: No, a turkey sandwich is neither a liquid nor a gel.

    TSA Trainee: What if it’s been put through a blender?

    TSA Trainer: Why would you put a turkey sandwich through a blender?

    TSA Trainee: If your jaw has been wired shut!

  43. SaraAB87 says:

    Well at least I know now that if I ever have to fly I can likely pack enough food to survive being stranded on the tarmac for 7 hours and not be subjected to horrible in-flight meals while on the plane, oh and also to cover myself while I am in the airport for 8 hours waiting for another flight because mine has been canceled and not have to purchase any crappy airport food. What to do about something to drink is another story though!

  44. bunnymen says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: Thank you! This was the comment I was hoping for! (I’m still undecided whether to stick a few booze bottles in with my tiny shampoo and conditioner.)

  45. bunnymen says:

    @siblog: I really meant to reply to this comment :(

  46. Tim says:

    What’s stopping me from putting gel in the pockets of my cargo pants,and going through the metal detector? TSA better get on this and make everyone take their pants off.

  47. shufflemoomin says:

    It’s bloody fantastic, isn’t it? Someone somewhere has an idea about possibly maybe using liquid taken on board an aircraft and using it as some kind of explosive and possibly getting it powerful enough to ruffle a budgies feathers and the world is banned from taking liquids on board in case it’s given someone an idea and might actually get it to work, even though it’s been proven unlikely. I’d love to get a plot out there that I’ve discovered the previously unknown explosive properties of human hair. Or maybe human faeces. That should make for some interesting bans and entertaining security measures. (Please empty your bowels into a government approved clear plastic bag and have it ready for inspection…)

  48. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Spin the random wheel of banned items!!!!


  49. kenboy says:

    @famboozled: But they’re not sizing us up, inspecting our junk, and making a call as to whether we’re going to kill ourselves and everyone around us. They’re using low-level employees to enforce a ridiculous series of regulations as part of a continuing effort to bamboozle the public into thinking something is being done about airport security.

  50. christoj879 says:

    No problem bringing two large pork rolls with me…they did ask to inspect my pork rolls though ;-)

    (I was going from PA to TX where pork roll isn’t readily/cheaply available)

  51. fishiftstick says:

    Coming soon to a [security] theater near you…

    Samuel L. Jackson


    Cakes on a Plane!!!!!