TSA tosses Colorado mom's breast milk at airport security check point

Agency apologizes

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A Colorado mom reached out to Denver-based KMGH after a stressful encounter with TSA at Denver International Airport.

Britney Shawstad said she wants other moms to be aware of what happened to her.

The 28-year old mom from Englewood, Colorado said on May 17, she was taking her 3-month old son, Harrison, home to meet her family.

“I told the security officers that I was carrying breast milk,” she said. “They told me to take it out and put it in its own bin, so I did.”

Shawstad said one of the officers told her it set off an alarm when he tested it for explosives.

“I politely asked him to test it again,” she said. “It didn’t pass.”

The frustrated mom said she then asked if they could transfer the milk into a different container for another test, and that the agent told her, “the only option was to dump it.”

She said she didn’t argue, because she didn’t want to get pulled into a back room and get patted down.

A few minutes later, she was overcome with emotion.

“I just started crying,” she said, “because I really didn’t know what to do…that was my son’s food.”

Shawstad said she had packed enough milk to keep Harrison fed while they were traveling. She said she made the personal decision to use breast milk when Harrison was born.

“It’s good for infants” she said. “They get antibodies from it.”

TSA response

The mom said she told her dad what happened and that he called TSA.

TSA apologized.

A spokeswoman told KMGH via email that “While TSA’s top priority is to ensure travelers arrive to their destinations safely, we also strive to provide the highest level of customer service at our checkpoints.  Officers are trained to screen breast milk, and medically necessary liquids, which includes procedures to resolve alarms.  In this particular case, standard checkpoint procedures were not followed to resolve the alarm.  We’ve reached out to the passenger to apologize for any inconvenience caused during the screening process and scheduled a briefing for all DEN TSA officers on screening oversized liquids, including breast milk.”

Protocol

TSA officers initially screen medically exempt liquids, gels and aerosols using X-ray screening machines. If there is an alarm, officers will then proceed with screening using a liquid container screening technology that does not necessarily require opening containers.

Passengers who do not want their containers opened must inform the officer. The passenger will then be subject to additional screening that may involve a pat-down and additional screening of their remaining accessible property.

To learn more about TSA’s policy regarding breast milk, click on this link: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children

Shawstad said the apology doesn’t resolve anything. She said it should never have reached that point.

“I had traveled once before with breast milk and it wasn’t an issue,” she said. “The last time, it was.”

Shawstad said the experience was overwhelming.

“It makes it hard to travel and it makes me stressed to think about traveling,” she said.

The 28-year old mom said she wants other moms to know what the protocol is.

“If you’re traveling with breast milk, follow the rules,” she said.  “And the rules are that you are allowed to bring breast milk for your child. You are also allowed to bring juice.”

Shawstad said if a TSA officer tells you otherwise, ask to talk to a manager.

 

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