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I have searched for a definitive answer to this question on google but found conflicting opinions. My question and situation is as follows:

I am traveling from Ithaca, NY to Detroit, MI and back later this month. I am a big fan of weightlifting and am staying in Ann Arbor, MI to work in U Michigan Ann Arbor for a few days. I intend to buy a week pass to the gym and do some powerlifting in addition to work.

I am wondering if I could bring a zip lock bag of whey protein powder with me as part of my carry on and if anyone has had any similar experiences regarding this situation.

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Yes, you are fine bringing a bag of protein powder in your carry-on. The TSA requires food (which it would probably be considered) to be wrapped and to be sent through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint, but so long as it is not a liquid or gel it isn't banned.

Note that, especially since it won't be in its original container, they may want to sample it for testing. The same goes for any powder (e.g. powder makeup, sugar, dietary fiber supplements, talcum, Gatorade). It goes without saying that powders which are hazardous materials (e.g. explosive or corrosive) are banned of course.

  • Thank you for the very clear answer with links. I appreciate it. It cleared all my doubts. – Shion Mar 8 '13 at 1:58
  • +1 for the warning regarding the sampling. It took me an extra 40 minutes to pass the TSA at SFO because I had placed some protein powder in a ziploc. The TSA agents told me it's fairly common to be scanned for it, and confirmed that the fact it wasn't in its original container was aggravating. By the way, the TSA does not care about when your plane departs. I would have missed my flight if it hadn't been delayed (which I only learnt after passing the TSA, as I couldn't check the information on my phone since all my electronics had been taken away as part of the explosive material search). – Franck Dernoncourt Dec 3 '18 at 2:42
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I've done this...mostly. At the last minute, I thought about a big bag of unidentified powder, and stuffed the whole bag in a smaller empty protein powder container. It didn't even matter that it was a different powder from the one I was taking (which had a much larger canister) - the packaging let it go through without difficulty.

Stories I've head say it should be alright, with the caveat unlabeled bags or homemade packaging might leave you subject to a touch more scrutiny, and labeled packages less (irregardless of actual content) - and they've included such items as protein powder, sacred ash, or powdered herbal remedies. As long as you're willing to lose a bit of time and a sample if they notice and ask, it should get through fine.

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