Which Thanksgiving Foods Will Pass Airport Security

The TSA allows carry-on turkey, but hold the cranberry sauce.

ByABC News
November 25, 2013, 3:55 PM
The TSA permits pies and cakes as carry-on baggage but your desserts may be subject to additional screenings.
The TSA permits pies and cakes as carry-on baggage but your desserts may be subject to additional screenings.
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Nov. 25, 2013— -- As the country prepares to gobble on Thanksgiving, some travelers may be inclined to bring traditional dishes into the friendly skies with them. The question is, can you?

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with a little careful planning and proper packing, you can technically fly with all of your Turkey Day favorites to and from the feast. Depending upon which dishes you are trying to travel with, however, some foods require more precautions than others.

"Anything that presents a potential threat is looked at as a prohibited item," a TSA spokesperson told ABC News. "Items that have high concentrations of liquids fit that category."

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Translation: cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads, gift baskets that contain liquid or gel food items such as mustard, salsa, jams, salad dressings, etc., and the celebrity condiment of the week--gravy--must all be stored in checked baggage.

The good news is that most cakes and pies are fine to take as carry-ons. But if your preferred pie is of the more gelatinous variety, such as key lime or chocolate mousse, it may require additional screening or could ultimately be rejected.

"It's very difficult to say this particular pie is acceptable and that one isn't," said the TSA spokesperson. "We have to err on the side of caution. The rule of thumb should be, if it's questionable, you should ship them or bake or buy them on the opposite end of your trip."

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Bread, donuts, and other dense food items are also fine to take as a carry-on--even turkeys, if packaged properly in ice or dry ice.

"When the turkey goes through the x-ray machine, if there were an explosive in the cavity, we would see it," he said.

But if you do roll the dice with a food that is prohibited or it gets rejected by TSA, don't assume that the agents are simply going to dine on it later themselves.

"TSA workers are not permitted to eat perishable items left behind," said the representative for the agency. "Any food items are disposed of, just like bottles of water."