ABC's San Diego-area affiliate 10 News reports that Nicole Moberg, a traveling sales director and mother of a seven-month-old son, was recently detained by TSA screeners at Lindbergh Field in San Diego. Her crime? Bringing with her nearly 50 individual bags of breast milk that she carefully apportioned for her son.
For nearly an hour, Moberg was held by the TSA while every single bag of her breast milk was removed and analyzed as if it were some kind of explosive. Since Moberg travels up to five days per week, she normally carries with her individual bags of breast milk for easy feeding while on the road, a protocol that up until this experience had never been an issue.
"This wasn't typical," explained Moberg to 10News, emphasizing that TSA screeners typically just check the larger bags rather than each individual packet of milk.
Traveling with large quantities of breast milk can be tricky, but Moberg discovered a way to simplify the process by portioning out individual milk servings into separate bags. To ensure that these bags are not damaged during travel, she typically loads each one into a larger one-gallon bag, which is then inserted into another one-gallon bag to guard against leakage.
Based on the way that the TSA has treated her in the past, Moberg assumed that it would be just another day through the security line. But this time, TSA agents treated her as some kind of security threat, while at the same time putting her breast milk at risk of contamination or spoilage.
"It's a little swatch and they attach it to a handle, and they kind of swish it over the bag and a little over the milk and they run it through a machine, and they let me go most of the time," she described about the process. "This time... they checked every single bag."
'Liquid medication' designation doesn't mean breast milk won't be treated as security threat
TSA guidelines recognize breast milk as liquid medication, exempting it as a prohibited flying item. It must, however, be "declared to the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process," something Moberg routinely does. These same rules also allow for TSA screeners to test breast milk "for explosives or concealed prohibited items."
But common sense would dictate that detaining a working mom for extended periods of time in order to test individual samples of her breast milk is excessive. This is especially true in light of the fact that illegal immigrants are right now being allowed to skip the screening process altogether and board airplanes without proper photo identification.
"I get it, I get that you want to protect travelers, but I do feel that there needs to be something in place for working moms," added Moberg.
Earlier in the year, Stacey Armato, another California mother http://rt.com, received a $75,000 settlement from the TSA. Armato had insisted that her breast milk not undergo an X-ray screening, pointing out how this process denatures its vital nutrients. In response, TSA screeners forced her to stand in a holding area for 40 minutes, prompting her to sue the agency.