According to TSA regulations, you can bring meat on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
However, you must be aware of packing restrictions, and if you’re flying internationally or are planning to bring meat back into the US, there are several other restrictions you need to be aware of.
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Bringing Meat on a Plane
Carry on Bags
You can bring meat on a plane in your carry on bags.
This includes frozen meat and cooked meat, though additional restrictions will apply if you want to bring frozen meat.
If you want to bring frozen meat on a plane, and are planning on keeping the food frozen to prevent thawing through the use of ice or ice packs in a cooler or other container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen as you go through airport security.
If they are partially melted and have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they will not be permitted.
You can also pack meat in your checked bags.
This includes frozen and cooked meat.
Regulations Vary When Flying Internationally
If you want to bring meat on a plane when you are flying internationally, you might not necessarily be able to depending on the country you are flying to.
- UK: If you are traveling to the UK from a country that is outside the EU, including the U.S., you are not allowed to bring in any meat or meat products into the country.
- Canada: If you are flying to Canada, you can bring frozen meat, though any baked goods that containing meat are not allowed.
- EU: If you are flying to an EU country from a non-EU country, you are not allowed to bring any meat into the country.
Airlines may also have their own regulations.
For example, JetBlue does not permit meat, fish, or seafood when flying internationally.
In Most Instances, You Can Bring Meat Into the US
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service state that you cannot bring meat from countries affected with certain serious livestock diseases.
You are allowed to bring back fresh (chilled or frozen), cooked, cured or dried meat from countries without these diseases if they have official documentation to prove the product’s country of origin.
Considering that the meat will usually contain the country of origin on the package label, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Written documentation, proof of travel (passport or travel itinerary), origin of flight, and receipt of sale all act as proof too.
You are allowed to bring back meat in commercially packaged, labeled, and unopened containers, though you must not bring back more than 50 pounds of any one item.
You Can Even Bring Frozen Food on a Plane
Besides meat, you can bring other frozen food on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags, though if packed in your carry on along with the ice or ice packs, additional restrictions apply.
As Well As Ice Packs
You can bring ice packs on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags, though instant cold packs are not allowed to be packed in either.
Ice packs must be completely frozen when you go through airport security.
And Even Dry Ice
The TSA state that you are allowed to bring dry ice on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
The TSA also state that there is a 5.5 pound quantity limit and the dry ice must be properly packaged with venting and markings.
How to Pack Meat for Air Travel
When packing meat for your next flight, you undoubtedly don’t want it to go bad.
So, frozen meat should be packed in the following way:
- Pack the frozen meat into containers that have tight lids or seals.
- As food expands when frozen, leave at least an inch at the top of the container.
- Place the meat into a cooler or other container with either dry ice or gel ice packs.
- Make sure the containers or cooler are properly closed but not taped shut, as carbon dioxide needs to escape from the containers.
- Decide if you want to check the cooler in or have it is as a carry on.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).