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Can you fly with brisket? (Explained)

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Traveling with cooked meats can be challenging. It must be properly packaged for long-distance transport in order to remain fresh and safe to consume.

However, flying with meats such as brisket can be considerably more difficult.

Flight regulations are continuously changing and are not always communicated in a clear and understandable style. If airport security forces you to throw away your perfectly cooked brisket that took 15 hours to smoke, it can be distressing, to say the least.

So, we did the digging for you and assembled all the information you need to know before flying with a brisket.

The following page explains when and if brisket is fit to fly with, as well as packaging techniques to keep it fresh and safe for consumption.

Can You Fly with A Brisket?

Domestic travel with meat, seafood, or other non-liquid food products is completely permissible, according to the TSA.

There are no restrictions on how the brisket can be packed in a checked bag. This is a general guideline for all solid foods.

Checked luggage, however, can sometimes be tampered with or lost entirely. It may also take longer to receive your checked bag after the flight.

However, if you wish to bring a brisket in your carry-on luggage, there are some rules that must be observed in order to comply with TSA regulations.

While solid foods are fine to fly with, anything that is considered “creamy” or “spreadable” is deemed a liquid. As a result, a melty and tender brisket could be flagged by airport security.

Because of this, and in accordance with food safety regulations, it’s a good idea to freeze brisket before flying.

Also, if you have packaged brisket with ice or icepacks in your carry-on bag, the packs must be completely frozen before passing through airport security.

If any of the ice melts before going through screening, it can be considered a liquid and will not be permitted through.

You should be aware that packing dry ice in a carry-on bag is totally acceptable. However, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) maintains a 5-pound limit on dry ice stowed in carry-on luggage.

Should You Fly with Brisket?

The questions should you fly with a brisket relies on your willingness to put forth the effort of properly packaging and stowing it.

While it is absolutely legal to fly with brisket, you must follow the TSA and FAA requirements, and ensure that it is properly maintained so that it does not spoil in transit.

International Flights

Everything we’ve talked about thus far is regarding domestic flights. International flights, on the other hand, are very different.

While most foods, such as cookies, sweets, or other grainy foods, are completely permissible on international flights, meats (and certain types of unpasteurized cheeses) are usually not.

This is a rule regardless of whether it’s in your carry-on or checked luggage.

Now, you may sometimes be allowed to board an aircraft with some meats (like in airport sandwiches), but you may have some issues once you arrive at your destination and go through customs.

You should be aware that certain countries may have strong restrictions regulating international meat travel, which could result in steep fines. So do your research, and if you have any questions, contact the TSA directly to ask.

How to Package Brisket for Flights

On its own, cooked brisket can rest at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After that, it begins to teeter into the danger zone. 

  • The danger zone is the temperature range at which raw or cooked brisket is no longer safe to eat. This temperature range is between 40 and 140 degrees(F). Raw brisket should not exceed 40 degrees(F), while cooked brisket should not dip below 140 degrees(F).

If you are not going to freeze the brisket, make sure it is well wrapped. Layer it in foil, then saran wrap, and finally a cloth towel or blanket.

However, depending on the length of your journey, freezing the brisket may be advisable.

When transporting frozen brisket, a vacuum sealed bag is the best solution. It will completely remove the brisket from the open air while providing a tight bundle.

You can then store the vacuum-sealed brisket in a thermal bag, which is highly insulative, along with a couple of freshly frozen icepacks.

Icepacks are preferable to actual ice. You won’t have to worry about a leaking mess if you let them thaw slightly, as you would with ice.

Another excellent solution for carrying frozen brisket is dry ice. Just keep in mind that you can only bring 5 pounds of dry ice in your carry-on luggage. 

Final Thoughts

It is completely acceptable to fly with a brisket. You only need to ensure that you adhere to any food travel requirements established by the FAA and TSA.

Regulations are constantly changing, making it difficult to keep informed on present regulations. So, if you have any questions that you can’t find an answer to, don’t be hesitant to contact TSA directly to ask.