Mom Detained After Refusing To Allow TSA To X-Ray Her Breast Milk Finally Gets Settlement

Breastfeeding Mom Reaches Settlement With TSA Four years ago, Stacey Armato was detained at a Phoenix airport and subjected to an intrusive body inspection after she refused to allow TSA agents to screen her breast milk. Armato had requested a secondary screening of the milk, due to concerns about exposing  breast milk to radiation. According to a 2013 complaint from Armato, agents denied her request and then detained her in a glass enclosure for 40 minutes, and they also refused to let her show them a printout she had regarding the TSA rules regarding breast milk. Now TSA officials have tentatively offered her 75,000 dollars, along with promises to retrain agents and clarify its guidelines on screening breast milk. The current TSA regulations classify breast milk as liquid medication, and parents are allowed to bring an amount larger than the usual three ounces normally permitted for liquids.

Luckily, Armato was traveling alone that day and not with a crying infant, but she still says the entire situation was horrible. From CBS News:

“He (TSA officer) looked at me and said, ‘Not today,’” Armato recalled about her experience. “And I had a choice: dump my milk or put it through the X-ray.”


Armato says she will use the settlement towards her legal fees, and donate the rest to a nonprofit that supports breastfeeding moms.

People traveling with breast milk can request that it be screened by hand ( which is called the “alternate” screening for medication) which may consist of a visual inspection or a wipe of the container’s exterior that supposedly detects explosives. Here’s hoping that Stacey’s fight means more moms won’t be detained for not wanting their child’s food exposed to radiation.

(Image: Facebook)

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  • Alicia Kiner

    Okay, I’m very uneducated when it comes to breastmilk. I wasn’t able to produce it, so all my experience with it is via other people. Why would she be carrying breastmilk on a plane versus checking it if she was traveling without her child?

    Obviously, mothers need to be able to carry the food their children need for their flights with zero hassle. I’m just a little confused as to what was happening in this particular instance. The TSA here was wrong, no question.

    • SunnyD847

      Maybe she pumped while she was away from her child and was taking it back home with her. It would need to be kept cold, so she probably had it in a little cooler.

    • Erin Murphy

      There’s also not a real “leak proof” method if you think about how luggage is handled, stacked, and generally jostled when traveling.

    • SunnyD847

      Yeah, I just saw a video recently of employees throwing luggage from the plane door down to the tarmac. This was luggage that was carried on but then had to be checked because there wasn’t enough room in the overhead bins. I always put my most fragile stuff in my carry-on, so it was pretty scary to see.

    • AP

      If you look out the plane window, you can see them doing it right in front of you. THROW THROW THUNK. And you cross your fingers that it isn’t your suitcase that just missed the trolley and is now lying on the tarmac and getting stepped on.

      Sadly, they do that to pets flying cargo, too. :(

    • darras

      Oh yes.. This is why musicians throw a hissy fit about checking instruments. Honestly if the workers would just treat the luggage with a bit of care a lot of people would be a lot happier! It really shouldn’t be necessary to fling luggage the way that they do.

  • Kay_Sue

    I can’t believe they wouldn’t even let her show them the print out. That takes it to a whole different plane of asshole-ishness.

  • Megan Zander

    Wow, just wow. I’ve flown with my toddlers a few times and whether it was breast milk, formula or now milk, TSA has always done the wipe/swipe test for us no problems, no questions asked. They’ve even been great about other baby food, like yogurt and homemade purées, as long as I had it out in a separate cooler for them. I feel badly that this woman encountered such lazy/misinformed employees.

    • guest

      The video is on YouTube, it is pretty awful what they put her through. They make her stand in that glass/plastic walled room without acknowledging her for about a half hour if I remember correctly. I usually side with the TSA, only because I’d rather have everyone thoroughly inspected (I get really nervous about flying) but this time they really were wrong. And really nasty to her as well. She remained a lot calmer than I think most people would have.

  • AP

    Can someone explain to me why breast milk cannot be x-rayed?

    The last flight I took, all my snacks got x-rayed, and then I got a nice dose of cosmic radiation during the six hours I spent in the air. I’m none the worse for the wear, having eaten radiated Pretzel Flipz and Pringles.

    I’d have let them x-ray it rather than end up in TSA Jail and missing my flight.

  • darras

    Hm.. I’ve refused to take my baby through the x-ray (wasn’t a problem. They patted us down instead – this was London however), but I can’t say I’ve ever had a problem sending his food through it.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    How does this deserve money though? Did they destroy an entire year’s supply of milk somehow?

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  • darras

    I wonder if she microwaves her breastmilk for the baby.. I read somewhere that microwaving it increases the chance of e-coli O.o which was scary! Now I’m fervently hoping I dreamed that.

    • Jayamama

      You’re not supposed to microwave breastmilk, as it kills many of the beneficial parts of it. I run warm, then hot, water over the bag with milk in it while gently swishing it until it’s warm.

    • darras

      Admittedly I’ve never done either, I’m far too lazy to want to deal with bottles but I know several who have been using the micro. Thanks for the information!