How the TSA determines what is and isn’t a ‘liquid’

(WHNT) — Peanut butter is available in a variety of textures and viscosities, from thick to runny and crunchy to smooth. But as far as the Transportation Security Administration is concerned, all of them are liquids — and the news is driving at least a few people nuts.

Following a recently-viral social media post in which the TSA confirmed its stance on peanut butter, the internet is once again taking sides to defend, or argue, their own positions on the subject.

Despite the debate, the TSA continues to remain firm in its opinion that the agency “considers your PB a liquid.”

They categorize it as such, according to the TSA, because like a liquid, peanut butter “has no definite shape and takes a shape dictated by its container.”

The TSA has also previously pointed to its “general definition” for the liquid rule, which suggests that if a passenger can “spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then the carry-on quantity is limited to 3.4 ounces each placed in one quart-sized bag, with one bag permitted per passenger.”

Responses to the TSA’s post began pouring in from across the globe, with travelers alleging that TSA officers had cited the same rule when confiscating other, non-peanut-butter items. In some cases, passengers claimed they were surprised at what the TSA actually allowed through the checkpoint.

“This has happened to me too before,” one Twitter user claimed of the peanut-butter rule. “Meanwhile, in Italy, my husband has taken an entire lasagna as handluggage.”

Others claimed they had issues trying to bring homemade Play-Doh or Nutella through security. Another said she never had a problem with peanut butter, but rather “conflicting experiences with hummus.”

Some travelers, meanwhile, had claimed they passed through TSA checkpoints with peanut butter sandwiches, though that may not always be the case: In an official TSA webpage which clarifies its stance on peanut butter, the agency says any final decision “rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

Of course, it never hurts to take a refresher course on the “What Can I Bring?” page on the TSA website before packing your bags. The agency’s annual Thanksgiving guidance may also provide insight into what can’t be packed in a carry-on, including gravies, sauces, or canned fruits and vegetables.

And in case you were wondering, all of peanut butter’s perfect complements — jellies, jams or preserves — need to be packed in checked luggage, too.


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