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December 7, 2010

US mom treated like terrorist by airport security over stored breast milk

     Melbourne: A woman in the US has revealed that she was treated like a terrorist by airport security just because she was carrying stored breast milk along with her. Stacey Armato, 30, who was on her way home to Los Angeles to be re-united with her seven-month-old son, said that security staff at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport subjected her to a humiliating ordeal. Armato, a lawyer, was carrying 340 grams of breast milk in a container and asked the milk not to be passed through the x-ray scanner due to possible radiation, in line with airport security rules. Having previously filed a complaint about TSA staff's handling of her breast milk, she had printed out the rules from their website to show to agents. The guidelines state: "Mothers flying with, and now without, their child be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint." She alleges she was harassed and made to wait in a glass "security box" for over an hour and her papers were ignored, thus making her miss her flight. "My hand was swatted away and they put me in this glass cage forever it seemed," News.com.au quoted Armato as saying. When released, Armato told the TSA employee that breast milk is to be treated as a medical liquid, to which he allegedly replied "well, not today". Armato says a police officer told her that the TSA officials were waiting for her due to her prior complaint against security officials. "They remember you from last week and they want you to play along with their horse and pony show, and if you don't then TSA can have the Phoenix Police Department arrest you," the policeman allegedly said. She said that after her hour-long wait the TSA manager reviewed Armato's papers but decided not to follow the rules. Armato was then patted down, sent back to the security box and told she either had to put the milk through the x-ray machine or throw it away. A surveillance camera captured the incident and Armato requested the footage, however she alleges the tapes she received left out over 30 minutes of her ordeal. She said, included in the missing footage was the part showing a manager telling her to write her personal information on a piece of paper before pocketing it. The TSA said it has apologised over the incident, but Armato has denied receiving an apology.
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