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Can You Bring Tomatoes On A Plane?

Can you bring tomatoes on an airplane? Are the rules different for domestic and international flights? And just how long will tomatoes remain safe to eat when packed in your luggage? Read on for the answers.

 

Bringing Tomatoes On A Plane

Can You Bring Tomatoes on Domestic Flights Within the U.S.A.?

Carry-On Baggage:

Yes, if boarding in the continental U.S.*

Checked Luggage:

Yes, if boarding in the continental U.S.*

 

 

*If you are flying from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, you cannot bring most fresh fruits and vegetables on board. If you are flying to Hawaii, you must declare all fresh produce upon arrival; it may be prohibited depending on type and origin.

 

Can You Bring Tomatoes on International Flights Originating in the U.S.A?

Carry-On Baggage:

Yes, if boarding in the continental U.S.**

Checked Luggage:

Yes, if boarding in the continental U.S.**

 

**You can bring tomatoes on board and consume them during the flight. But you might not be able to bring tomatoes into your foreign destination (see details below).

 

 

Can You Bring Tomatoes Into The U.S.A. on an International Flight?

Carry-On or Checked Luggage:

 No in most cases (see details below)

 

 

How Long Will Tomatoes Last In Your Luggage?

Tomatoes, whole / cherry tomatoes:

1 to 5 days at room temperature

Tomatoes, sliced:

2 hours at room temperature

 

Sources: Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, StillTasty.com

 

BRINGING TOMATOES ON A PLANE: FLIGHTS ORIGINATING IN THE U.S.A.

Can you bring tomatoes through airport security in your carry-on baggage?

Yes, if you are boarding a flight in the continental United States*, you can bring tomatoes through airport security in your carry-on baggage.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows both whole and sliced tomatoes to pass through airport security. Whole regular-sized tomatoes don’t require any additional wrapping. If you’re taking cherry tomatoes or sliced tomatoes, you’ll need to wrap them up or place them in a resealable bag or container with a secure-fitting lid. There is no limit to the quantity of tomatoes you can bring in your carry-on: You can pack as many tomatoes as you’d like and will fit into your allowable hand luggage.

*If you are flying from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland, you cannot bring most fresh fruits and vegetables on board. If you are flying to Hawaii, you must declare all fresh produce upon arrival; it may be prohibited depending on type and origin.

 

Read more: Here are the foods you can bring through airport security

 

Can you bring tomatoes on an airplane in your checked baggage?

Yes, you can bring tomatoes in your checked baggage when boarding a flight within the United States, with the exceptions for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands noted above. You can bring as many tomatoes as you’d like in your allowable checked luggage. To prevent tomatoes from getting crushed, pack them in sturdy containers with tight-fitting lids.

 

Can you bring tomatoes on an international flight leaving the U.S.A.?

Yes, you can bring tomatoes on an international flight departing from the U.S. — but depending on where you’re going, you may not be able to bring the tomatoes off the plane once you arrive at your destination.

If your intention is to bring the tomatoes onto the plane in your carry-on baggage and eat them during the flight, you’ll have no issues. The TSA applies the same rules for allowing tomatoes through security at U.S. airports, whether you are flying domestically or internationally.

But taking the tomatoes off the plane and bringing them into a foreign country is a different matter. The rules around fresh produce can be strict: Some countries, such as Australia, prohibit international travelers from bringing in any fresh fruits and vegetables whatsoever. Be sure to check your foreign destination’s rules before leaving if you’re hoping to bring in fresh produce.

 

BRINGING TOMATOES INTO THE UNITED STATES

Can you bring tomatoes on an international flight back into the U.S.A.?

In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. The United States has strict rules about allowing travelers to bring fresh fruit and vegetables into the country, due to the risk of spreading pests and diseases to U.S. crops.

Whether you can bring tomatoes back into the U.S. will depend on the country from which you are arriving. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a tool for checking the restrictions on specific fruits and vegetables from foreign countries.

Note also that you must declare all fruits and vegetables that you bring into the United States — whether they are allowable or not — to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and permit them to be inspected by a CBP agent. This can be a time-consuming process. The penalties for failing to declare your food items can be steep; bear in mind also that the CBP routinely conducts random screenings for arriving passengers.

 

FOOD SAFETY: HOW LONG WILL TOMATOES LAST IN YOUR LUGGAGE?

Whole tomatoes will usually remain safe to eat for about 1 to 5 days when stored at room temperature. Wash whole tomatoes and dry thoroughly before packing them in your carry-on bag or checked luggage.  

Sliced tomatoes can be kept safely for about 2 hours at room temperature; discard any leftovers. You can bring ice or a frozen gel pack to keep the sliced tomatoes cooler longer. But ice or gel packs in your carry-on luggage must be completely frozen when passing through airport security — if they are even partially thawed, the TSA screeners will likely bring them from you.

 

 

Note: While the above information is based on applicable Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guidelines at the time of publication, the final decision for whether to allow a food item through airport security or into the United States rests with the TSA and CBP officers on duty at the airport. Regulations also change frequently: For the latest information, check the US Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration websites.

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