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TSA Dumps Breast Milk At DIA Security Checkpoint

By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4)- Traveling with a baby can be difficult, but for one Englewood mother it turned into a nightmare.

"Thinking about it just makes me really upset," mother Britney Shawstad said.

While going through security with her infant at Denver International Airport last month, Shawstad placed her three-month-old's bottles of breast milk in a security checkpoint container.

DIA Denver International Airport Security TSA Screening
(credit: CBS)

"I let the agent know ahead of time, 'I'm carrying breast milk,'" she said. "I put it in its own bin and when it went through security, at the end, they take the breast milk and they put it through another scanner."

Shawstad, 28, said she had a bad feeling when a TSA agent ran her child's food through the scanner a second time. The agent told her the milk wasn't passing security screenings and swab tests so he couldn't permit her to take it through.

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Britney Shawstad with her infant son (credit: CBS)

"I was kind of pushing back, but at the same time, you're kind of taught to listen to TSA agents," Shawstad told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann. "I mean, he wasn't rude, but he was like, 'The only option is to dump it.'"

Shawstad said the agent never gave her a clear answer as to why the milk wasn't passing. The agent said it could have been because the bottles were too thick, but that seemed odd to Shawstad because after the agent dumped the milk, he gave back her bottles.

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(credit: CBS)

Confused and alone, Shawstad said she stood in shock and began sobbing.

"It was a little confusing and I was already stressed because I was traveling alone with him," Shawstad said, holding her son Harrison.

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(credit: CBS)

According to TSA's Special Procedures for Traveling With Children, breast milk is "permitted in reasonable quantities," and more than the regulated 3.4 ounces is allowed.

Britney Shawstad with her infant son (credit: CBS)

"I was carrying about 12-16 ounces in four ounce bottles and they dumped two," Shawstad said.

Shawstad filed a complaint with TSA and received a call last week.

(credit: CBS)

"It was kind of like, 'Well, sorry. Next time just call us,'" she said.

While the response wasn't quite what she was hoping for in terms of an apology, Shawstad said she accepts it. Her biggest concern is making sure no other parent goes through the shocking experience she did.

"I should have never been put in a position where someone was throwing away my baby's food," Shawstad said.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 reached out to Denver's TSA office and received the following response: "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 refresher briefing for all DEN TSA officers on screening oversized liquids, including breast milk."


Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 This Morning over the weekend and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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