What is the TSA stance on cheese?
December 17, 2012 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Can we take cheese in our carry-on luggage?

It seems like the answer is an easy yes, right? It's a solid. But this article from (apparently) last year has me nervous.

We'll be flying out of DCA this weekend, if it matters.

Any other tips for flying with cheese appreciated.
posted by troika to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
There's an AP for that!

There are things that look like C4 in the scanner. Cheese, peanut butter and fruitcakes. Don't wrap it up fancy, but leave it available for inspection.

If you are traveling internationally, NO. You can't import dairy products from one country to the next.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2012

It's not specifically banned right now, but it probably depends on the cheese (more like brie or more like aged cheddar?) and the mood of the TSA agent that day -- they can always reject something they don't like. The official word on food in general is:
Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked baggage. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not permitted in carry-on baggage and should be placed in your checked baggage if possible.

All food products should be properly packaged to avoid spilling during the screening process and damaging security equipment and other passengers' belongings. Cakes and pies are permitted as carry-on items, but could require additional screening.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.
(Found by searching "cheese" here)
posted by brainmouse at 11:38 AM on December 17, 2012

I cannot believe I did not find that TSA app on my own! Perhaps my google-fu is not as sharp as I thought it was.

Thanks to you both!
posted by troika at 11:41 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, you can take cheese. My "friend" suggests that you take a separate bag (a simple plastic grocery bag will do the trick) just for the cheese. Also, give yourself a little extra time in case the TSA wants to check out the cheese.

If, for some reason, you get a surly TSA agent*, ask to see their supervisor. According to my "friend," they are supposed to respond promptly to that request.

* Recently, my "friend" was told by a passenger that my "friend" could do a cavity search of the passenger anytime. Yeah, very flattering, Sir.
posted by "friend" of a TSA Agent at 12:01 PM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

You can't import dairy products from one country to the next.

"You may bring bakery items and certain cheeses into the United States," says the cbp.gov page of Prohibited and Restricted Items.
posted by kmennie at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, whether you're allowed to take cheese (or some other foodstuff) into a country depends on both the country you're entering and the one you're coming from.
posted by hoyland at 1:02 PM on December 17, 2012

My parents recently brought casu marzu from Sardinia. You cannot hide that shit, it smells like... really bad. There was no problem coming through customs (LAX). I felt so bad for the people that sat next to them on the plane.
posted by Cuspidx at 1:49 PM on December 17, 2012

I brought Canadian Cheddar home on my last trip without incident.
posted by brujita at 2:56 PM on December 17, 2012

I think that the exact phrasing probably varies, but in general, any hard (aged) cheese should be legal for import into the US and most others that care. That of course varies depending on the "mad cow" origins of a given country, etc., etc., but it's mostly meant as a precaution against listeria.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2012

People saying "yes, cheese is allowed" seem to be answering the question of whether it is legal to transport cheese on a plane. This is a separate question from whether you can take it in your carry-on luggage. I don't think you can rely on being allowed to, if it's more than 3 oz, as it seems like most TSA agents err toward prohibiting anything that can possibly be considered a liquid or gel. Anecdotally, last spring I had a travel companion try to bring a large package of (soft-ish?) cheese in carry-on on a domestic flight, and it was tragically confiscated despite strong resistance.
posted by zadermatermorts at 5:07 PM on December 17, 2012

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