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05 March 2010

Question of the day - Can I take peanut butter in my carry on?

Sometimes at AirSafe.com, we get interesting questions about what the TSA allows in carry on baggage. Marie wrote in about whether she could carry an unusual combination, containers of peanut butter and tuna in the cabin in her carry on bag.

While I normally have a checked bag with “peanut butter in a jar” and “canned tuna”, on my upcoming trip to Jamaica, I am going overnight and plan to take a carry on. Can I take the “peanut butter in a jar” and “canned tuna” in my overnight carry-on luggage? These are the items my mom likes when I visit. Your response will be most appreciated. Thanks in advance

Marie,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I'm not sure about the rules on peanut butter, but it will likely be considered a liquid or gel, and not be allowed in the passenger cabin if the container is larger than 100 ml (3.4 oz). I'm assuming that your peanut butter container will be larger than this, so prepare to put it in checked baggage or to pack it in several smaller containers.

The can of tuna should not be a problem, but here is where there may be a gray area. Canned goods are not on TSA's list of prohibited items, but if the tuna can is greater than 3.4 oz capacity, and a TSA agent believes it contains a liquid, paste, or gel, then it is possible that the can will be confiscated.

I know it seems a bit odd that a TSA screener would think this way, but they do have wide latitude when it comes to allowing something through. My suggestion is to make sure that the label is on the tuna can.

I do hope that this is helpful. You may want to review tsa.airsafe.org, which has an overview of what is allowed and not allowed on an aircraft.

Flashback: Security Screening Before TSA
Before 9/11, airport screening was largely done by private contractors, and although baggage was not as thoroughly screened as they are now, carry on bags were typically x-rayed. After a visit with my parents, my mother sent me off with a bundle of her famous homemade enchiladas, which she froze and wrapped in aluminum foil.

Going though security, the security staff clearly saw a large, opaque, and roughly rectangular object in my bag, and they had a look of concern on their faces. Were this to happen today, I'd likely be hustled off to the side for some extra scrutiny. However, it was a different time and place (the place being Texas) and all I had to do was explain that it was my mother's frozen enchiladas, and their frowns turned to smiles as they waved me through.

Enchiladas photo: Will Merydith

25 comments:

  1. I can personally tell you first hand that you can not take a jar of peanut butter through security in PHX, AZ. I tried, as a matter of fact I had a jar of peanut butter, celery, and two little containers of jello. To which they let jello through and not peanut butter. They claimed peanut butter could not go through security because of "its consistency"

    Hard to believe jello made it through if that was the case. Hope that helped

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  2. I'm going on an artist painting holiday and flying to Mexico. Should I check in my art supplies, including paints? Gamsol has a flash point of 147 degrees F which is above the US Department of Transportation limit of 140 degrees F. WIll I be hassled anyway????

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  3. I had an open jar of peanut butter taken from me today in Grand Cayman, as well as a small pair of pointed scissors. I didn't care about the peanut butter, but I am going to have to replace the scissors. They were well within the TSA guidelines, but not allowed by the Cayman rules according to the screener.

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  4. This is a good one for all parents flying with children.....You are not allowed to take Playdoh on board. They tossed my container away just last week during the security check.

    This was such a bummer! Good thing my daughter did not see them. It would have kept her occupied for a long time. Good thing I had other things!

    The way the guy handled it , you would have thought it was dynamite!

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  5. They took my peanut butter when I went through a year or two ago. It was the stirring kind, but the liquid/oily part was mostly gone and it was mixed with soy powder and chocolate powder. Nope. No go.

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  6. I was devastated when my unopened jar of peanut butter was confiscated at JFK Airport.

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  7. Funny since I was on a flight from Tucson to Denver and the mother behind me had peanut butter for her out of control child. Based on the published TSA rules I would have to agree with the above and say leave it at home.

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  8. My son and his friend were going on a wilderness expedition and had a can of spinach that didn't pass the screener, so I wouldn't put money on the tuna, unless it is under the 3.4 oz rule.

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  9. I took my opened jar of peanut butter from Ukraine, through Germany, into Chicago, but wasnt allowed to take it home to Minneapolis. Who knew that peanut butter was dangerous? I sure didnt!

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  10. Yeah, a can of tuna should be considered a weapon of mass destruction because we're all terrorists. How absurd. All of this banning food, toothpaste, hair gel, shampoos is ridiculous.

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  11. Both my husband and I have had unopened jars of peanut butter taken by TSA

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  12. so glad to see this!!! Sent my son to china this summer, with 2 jars of pb in his onboard luggage. Had checked and double checked several times, both by phone and when I flew from NYC to Florida myself, and was told it would be no problem. But his pb was taken -- considered liquid. Go figure.

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  13. Those TSA agents sure get lots of perks, especially food. It's like grocery shopping at work. LOL

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  14. Why doesn't Walmart or someone open airside convenience stores with peanut butter and restricted groceries that many folks want to take on board.

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  15. Aloha,
    I was at the Kona airport a couple weekends ago, And TSA gone through my carry on backpack. Pulled everything out. I had a unopened jar of solid butter. And the jerk tossed it into the garbage. I was mad the jar of butter was expensive. I had no idea that they called it liquid. So now I know. Yeah, it sucked my day to get home.

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  16. THEY SHOULD MAKE A PB TYPE AND LABELED TSA APPROVED EAT IT ALL B4 HITTING SECURITY IS RIDICULOUS I MISS THE OLD DAYS.

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  17. Enjoy being a prisoner in your own country? Get used to it, for your safety, of course. Or the imaginary terrorists will getcha!

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  18. peanut butter smells like bombs

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  19. http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/holiday.shtm

    TSA website says yes as long as it is 3.4 oz or smaller bottle.

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  20. Sadly, peanut butter will be confiscated by TSA officials at the airport if you intend to take it as carry-on. I am still grieving for my jar of Jif which I had to surrender.

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  21. On a weekend trip to NYC two weeks ago, I bought a jar of La Colombe Caramel Coffee Spread to take home to my husband. At least the good natured TSA agent held it in her blue gloved hand so I could take a picture of it to show to my husband when I arrived home empty-handed! {She wouldn't let me photograph her uniform or face...just the hand}

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  22. I must say I was shocked and pretty upset when TSA took my 7 year-old's peanut butter. The genuises at the airport in Kalamazoo (yes, there is a Kalamazoo), MI called it a "lotion". Uh-huh. Sure. I laughed at them to their faces and loudly proclaimed they were idoits. It made me feel better, but didn't get my kid's peanut butter back...

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  23. what about canned foods(processed), canned potatoe chips, dried noodles in checked luggage from Toronto Ontario Canada to zurich Switzerland?

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  24. I would really hate to have my food taken, but I had a family member that was a bomb tech and the vast possibilities of substances that can be combined for nefarious purposes make them err on the side of caution in case that Jif isn't just Extra Crunchy, but something that just has been disguised. The USPS could make a fortune with flat rate mail ready to ship confiscated goodies home there at the airport.

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  25. Once when flying from Zurich to the US, I made some tuna salad for lunches on the plane. Tuna, mayo, celery. Since I ran out of time, I put the salad in a container and brought along bread. Security told me that if the tuna salad was already in the bread, they would have allowed it, but not in a container. I demonstrated that the tuna salad was not an explosive by eating it in front of the them. It certainly smelled like fish too. It was clearly not explosive, but it was confiscated, none the less. Blind adherence to nonsensical rules doesn't make for safety, just frustrated travelers.

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