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US Sen. Hirono calls on TSA to address inconsistent breastmilk and formula screening at airport checkpoints

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US Sen. Mazie K. Hirono was part of a group os senators who sent a letter to the TSA to address the inconsistencies in screening breastmilk and formula at airport security checkpoints. Illustration by PixaBay

US Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) led 12 of their colleagues in calling on the Transportation Security Administration to address inconsistent implementation of the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption travel policy for breastmilk and formula at airport security checkpoints.

In a letter sent today to the TSA, the lawmakers stated they want to ensure lactating individuals and their infants can travel safely without fear of harassment, according to a news release from Sen. Hirono.

Under the TSA’s 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption, travelers are permitted to bring formula and breastmilk in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces in carry-on baggage on board an aircraft, as well as ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to prevent formula and breastmilk from spoiling.


However, the overly vague policy has been inconsistently interpreted and enforced, resulting in numerous reports of TSA officials harassing lactating individuals and destructing breastmilk and expensive breastfeeding equipment.

“In several reported cases, individuals were forced to dispose of breast milk, cooling accessories, or both in order to board their flights, others were harassed and humiliated, had expensive breast pumps destroyed, and even forced to undress,” wrote the lawmakers. “We need to understand why TSA’s policies are not being implemented properly, ensure that policies are clear and women can travel safely without fear of harassment, and provide parents access to remedies for mistreatment.”

The senators asked for clarification on the 3-1-1 exemption policy and requested an outline of the TSA’s efforts to increase awareness about the agency’s established screening processes and procedures, investigate reports of mishandled screening processes, and provide training and resources to help ensure that agents will consistently enforce these policies.


The lawmakers also highlighted the potential dangers of delayed pumping for individuals who are breastfeeding, and the dangers to infants if freshly pumped breastmilk is not stored properly.

“Delayed pumping leads to painful swelling of the breasts that can become engorged, which can lead to plugged milk ducts,” the lawmakers continue. “This can lead to mastitis, a bacterial breast infection and even a breast abscess, which often requires hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.”

The letter requests the TSA to provide a response to their questions by July 6, 2022.


The letter also was signed by senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

The full text of the letter is available here and below.


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