13

I'm planning to travel with hand luggage only from Portugal to Austria. I want to bring a Portuguese cheese (queijo da Serra) with me. The cheese has a semi-hard skin, is creamy inside and is wrapped in paper. I packed it in a plastic box to avoid it getting smashed.

Could this be mistaken as a security hazard?

edit:

info on the cheese:

  • original packing, which consists of paper wrap with a seal, it's not vacuum packed
  • consistency: creamy, but not liquid, normally the cheese is opened from the top to avoid spilling
  • about 400g
  • Serra da Estrela cheese
  • can't you check it in your luggage ? or you only have hand luggage ? – Max Dec 21 '16 at 19:37
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    Handluggage only – Vickel Dec 21 '16 at 19:38
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    I do not know about Austria, but on a domestic flight airport security in Munich classified cheese with a creamy interior in my hand luggage as a liquid and threw it away. I did not get into trouble, but I didn't get to eat my cheese either. – Eike Pierstorff Dec 21 '16 at 20:11
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    Fruitcake famously has the same X-ray density as plastic explosive, but I don't know about cheese. – Mark Dec 21 '16 at 22:01
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    Anecdotally, I've heard that piles of books or paper and chocolate are all hard to x/ray or trigger searches in the US. If I'm carrying a bunch of books, my (checked) luggage always gets searched. – mkennedy Dec 21 '16 at 22:24
6

It's possible that your cheese could be mistaken as a security hazard. It's possible that many other types of items could be mistaken as a security hazard, too.

If the security officer has concerns about the contents of your bags, they'll inspect them further. If they only find cheese, then no problem.

  • 5
    Only if it is 'no problem' that they deny you bringing the cheese. Believe me, been there done that. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 21 '16 at 19:57
  • This answer is spot on. I've been detained because my fudge was mistaken for plastique. – Esoteric Screen Name Dec 22 '16 at 14:48
14

They can easily test for plastic explosives, so that is probably not an issue, but you may still be denied bringing it in your hand luggage. I have several times, flying from different airports in Europe, been refused bringing 'creamy' foods in my hand luggage. It is obviously disputable where the border between liquids and solid substances are drawn by the security agents.

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    I once took the plane with a hard cheese and a soft cheese in hand luggage, both from the same cheese shop, with the same packaging. They kept the soft cheese and allowed me to keep the hard cheese... – njzk2 Dec 21 '16 at 19:47
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    @njzk2 I bet they confiscated wine from the next person and soft, "creamy" bread from the third person. – MonkeyZeus Dec 21 '16 at 19:55
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    @MonkeyZeus So that's why they took my wicker basket and picnic blanket – SGR Dec 22 '16 at 10:34
  • @njzk2: hard cheese are more stable, and softer cheeses can more easily carry active bacterial agents, that's why they only snagged one. Pregnant women for example are recommended not to eat soft cheeses for the same reason. – whatsisname Dec 22 '16 at 15:25
  • @whatsisname they explicitly said that they took the soft cheese because it was considered a liquid. – njzk2 Dec 22 '16 at 16:13
6

The best list of liquids under the EU directives I am aware of is curiously on the Debrecen airport security page (why does such a small airport provide such a detailed list when seemingly noone else does?):

All drinks (including beverages, water, soup, syrups), chocolate creams, creams, oil, cheese spread, liver cream, pastas, peanut butter, yogurts, cottage cheese, butter, margarine, frozen food, tins, liver wurst, sausage, jelly, mousse, hair colorants, mascara, fluid lipsticks, fluid masks, lotions, spray and roll-on deodorants, perfumes, nail polish removers, and all items made of similar substances.

I can't see how soft cheese could pass if liver wurst and sausage can't.

  • Yeah, sure, but still. This list I believe is exhaustive enough to show soft cheese will be a problem. I will remove the emphasize. There's butter, margarine... – chx Dec 21 '16 at 21:05
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    The regulations only contain very vague descriptions of the general character of prohibited items and the regulation body also does not make any statements on specific items (unless they obviously fall into one of the prohibited categories). Since the airports are not allowed to decide what to bring and what to prohibit, I find it rather strange that an airport publishes such a detailed list and not that so many airports don't. Regarding this list, I btw don't understand the issue with sausages? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 21 '16 at 21:31
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo A raw unsmoked sausage (think: breakfast sausage rather than salami) is essentially ground/minced meat in an edible bag. That feels to me like it falls in the general category of the things that the regulations describe as gels. – David Richerby Dec 22 '16 at 2:53
  • Debrecen airport while being small (with at most 2 flights a day) is also the most strict airport I've ever seen. Once they almost tried to confiscate my notebook as after turning it on it didn't had an operating system on it. – SztupY Dec 22 '16 at 7:55
  • @SztupY that's not so rare, we had some altercation in Amsterdam over similar problems. – chx Dec 22 '16 at 16:19
1

You describe the cheese as needing to be opened from the top to avoid spilling it. This will be especially the case when it's in your luggage and not being refrigerated. As such, the cheese will absolutely be counted as a "liquid or gel", which is prohibited in hand luggage unless it's in a container of under 100ml and in a one-litre resealable plastic bag.

The only way you will get your cheese through security is if they assume it's solid based on the outside appearance. However, in the comments, you say that the cheese is well-known in the country you're flying from, so it's unlikely that they won't recognize it.

Of course they know that, if it really is cheese, it's completely safe. However, the job of the people doing the security checks is to implement the rules, and the rules say that liquids and gels can only be carried under certain conditions.

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    its not liquid and "creamy" is way more solid than gel. from Wikipedia: The texture of the paste varies depending on its age, from a very soft semi-liquid when young, to a soft but sliceable solid when older. – Vickel Dec 21 '16 at 20:55
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    As a comparison, things like Peanut butter are considered a "gel", despite being very much solid. Same for Vegemite/Marmite which are even more solid than peanut butter, and certainly more solid that most soft cheeses. – Doc Dec 22 '16 at 1:39
1

I have seen cheese confiscated at security multiple times this year in Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG). Among these was completely solid cheese. However, all these cases involved larger amounts (> 1kg).

0

To avoid problems with it being a borderline solid, the night before flying drop the cheese in the freezer. When you go, wrap it in a towel to keep it cold.

  • 3
    What do you think would happen if you bring a frozen bottle of water? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Dec 21 '16 at 22:32
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    NEVER freeze fine cheese. Hand-crafted cheeses are delicate, and very simply said, they'll deteriorate in the freezer. see thekitchn.com/can-you-should-you-do-you-free-117893 – Vickel Dec 21 '16 at 22:38
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    While not a good tip for delicate cheese, many sturdy cheeses do well with freezing. I vote against deleting. – Willeke Dec 22 '16 at 14:44

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