Liquid and Food Screening Policy Issued

Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Security Admiral James M. Loy today announced a policy that allows passengers to carry paper or foam polystyrene cups through the walk-through metal detector at the passenger security screening checkpoints of the nation’s airports.

“In an effort to make the security process more efficient and convenient for passengers, we have directed our screeners to allow passengers to carry their coffee, juice or other beverage, if it is in a paper or foam polystyrene container, through the walk-through metal detector,” said Loy. 

Loy noted that the policy is an effort to balance customer service and security since the metal detectors can detect objects inside paper or foam polystyrene cups.  Plastic, glass, metal or ceramic containers, however, must be sealed because they must pass through the X-ray machine to be screened for security.

“TSA has discussed numerous policy issues with members of the aviation community.  The post 9/11 security environment makes such interaction mandatory if we are to provide the optimal security for the traveling public,” Loy said.

The policy indicates that plastic, glass, metal or ceramic containers must go through the X-ray machines and therefore, to prevent spillage, liquids and food must be in an unopened factory-sealed container or a sealable or spill-proof container.  This means that an open can of soda is not permitted through the checkpoint, however, a bottle of soda with a sealable top is permitted, as it can safely pass through the X-ray machine without spilling.


Also included in this policy is a reminder that screeners are prohibited from asking passengers to drink or eat from any containers of food or liquid as a security clearance procedure. 

“With this policy, we are making it crystal clear that the public should not be asked, nor agree to, drink any liquid or eat any food for security clearance purposes,” said Loy.