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Can You Bring Peanut Butter on a Plane? The TSA Has an Official Ruling

Allrecipes logo Allrecipes 3/23/2023 Courtney Kassel

And what about good ol' jam and jelly?!


A few weeks back a tweet went viral that brought an age-old food debate back to light—and it wasn't asking if a hot dog is a sandwich (it's not). No, it resurfaced the question of why the TSA confiscates peanut butter if it's not (in this person's mind) a gel, liquid, or aerosol?

The replies to the tweet chronicle all the various inconsistencies of carrying different edible items through airport security. One person was told they could make sandwiches with their peanut butter before disposing of it, another astutely pondered why toothpaste is not considered a liquid if peanut butter is.

So why is the TSA taking it? Is peanut butter really a liquid? Naturally, the TSA fired back a reply after seeing the tweet getting lots of engagement.

Is Peanut Butter a Liquid?

According to the Instagram post, the TSA (and science) defines a liquid as a substance that, "has no definite shape and takes the shape dictated by its container." Of course, commenters fired back, saying everything from the hilarious, "cats fit that description too," to the poignant, "Has anyone at TSA tried to drink peanut butter though?"

And so, the TSA has officially upheld that peanut butter is, in their eyes, a liquid and thus, only containers under 3.4 ounces can be brought on a plane in carry-on luggage. And by their definition, many other so-called liquids like butter, hummus, and other dips, and—sorry to your PB & J—jelly and jam are all likely to be confiscated by TSA, as well. Candles, inexplicably, seem to be safe for now.

Although we don't necessarily agree with the TSA's definition of peanut butter as a liquid—anyone who's ever had a big spoonful of it stuck in their mouth will concur—we'll stick to putting it in our checked luggage rather than risk losing our precious P.B.

Heed this cautionary tale from an old colleague of mine, who attempted to bring multiple packs of (expensive!) European butter through airport security, only to have her haul taken without hesitation. Take it from us—you're "butter" off safe than sorry!


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