The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out new security measures for screening food – which might be a problem for people with food allergies.
Next time you’re traveling with a lot of snacks, be prepared – you may need to go through some extra security screening. As part of the Transportation Security Administration’s new, stricter screening rules, carry-on foods may need to go in their own bins. The measure has already gone into effect in airports like Orlando, where a woman from Arkansas told a travel agent that TSA was swabbing everything.
“When I went to Orlando from Memphis, I was pulled over for additional screening and was told it was [because] I had lots of snacks in my bag,” she said on a Facebook post reported by Allergic Living. “They swabbed every single snack.”
This poses a problem, though, for those with food allergies worried about cross-contamination. The bins are communal, so you don’t know what food has been in there already that might contain an allergen. And for TSA agents searching through bags or examining the food, they may have some sort of food allergen on their gloves from a previous traveler.
Sari Koshetz, a spokesperson for the southeast region of the TSA, gave Allergic Living some hints for how travelers can ensure no cross-contamination happens: Put all the allergy-safe food in clear, tightly sealed containers or baggies; Ask an officer going through your items to put on clean gloves; Point out liquids with medical purposes that exceed the volume limit for carry-ons so that TSA agents can scan them without opening them. It’s also a good idea, Allergic Living says, to carry a note from your doctor explaining your allergies and the safe foods (and possibly an EpiPen) you need to carry. Travelers should also consider joining TSA PreCheck, where the stronger security measures do not apply.