Airline Food in Question. Delicious In-flight Tidbits. But what are they, really?

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USA Today Reporting:

Inspectors find safety flaws where airline food is prepared

Six months ago, Food and Drug Administration inspectors say, they found live roaches and dead roach carcasses “too numerous to count” inside the Denver facility of the world’s largest airline caterer, LSG Sky Chefs.
They also reported finding ants, flies and debris, and employees handling food with bare hands. Samples from a kitchen floor tested positive for Listeria, a bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. It’s also dangerous to pregnant women.

LSG Sky Chefs, which annually provides 405 million meals worldwide for more than 300 airlines, says conditions at the Denver plant didn’t meet company standards. It took immediate measures to remedy the problems, says spokeswoman Beth Van Duyne.

AIRLINE FOOD REPORT: Unsanitary and unsafe conditions
The Denver facility is one of many catering operations that provide food to airlines where FDA inspectors saw unsanitary and unsafe conditions in the last two years, according to inspection reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by USA TODAY.

The reports show “caterers for many of the nation’s air carriers are contaminating foods in a number of ways,” says Roy Costa, a consultant and public health sanitarian who voluntarily agreed to review the reports.

Frequent flier Arthur Debowy, an architect from Highland Mills, N.Y., says the findings are “sickening,” and he’ll be more careful on future flights if food doesn’t smell or taste right.

USA TODAY requested inspection reports since January 2009 for the two biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and a third large caterer, Flying Food Group. Combined, the three companies have 91 kitchens preparing in-flight food for many big U.S. and foreign airlines at U.S. airports.

As of Friday, the FDA’s regional offices had sent reports for 46 facilities. At 27 of them, FDA inspectors noticed suspected food-preparation violations or objectionable practices. Among them:

•An FDA inspector spotted a mouse, rodent nesting materials and rodent feces under a pallet of food and in other areas at LSG Sky Chefs’ Minneapolis facility during a May 2009 inspection.

•The Dulles, Va., facility of Gate Gourmet, the second-largest caterer in the USA, failed to keep shrimp, filet mignon, Chilean sea bass, chicken and vegetables, and pastrami and cheese sandwiches at the proper temperature during an inspection in August. When an inspector mentioned the unsafe practice to company personnel, the shrimp and the pastrami and cheese sandwiches were not thrown in the garbage.

Employees with “unclean hands” were handling food. A lab report found a “high coliform count” in rice…….

By Gary Stoller USA Today (click here for complete USA Today story, and more)

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1 comment for “Airline Food in Question. Delicious In-flight Tidbits. But what are they, really?

  1. July 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    AP Reporting July 01, 2010:

    NY Sen: tougher fines for filthy airline kitchens

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for stiffer fines against companies that prepare airline food in unsanitary conditions.

    Pointing to repeated health code violations by three major airline caterers, Schumer wants to fine airline kitchens up to $50,000 per violation. Currently, fines are $1,000 per violation

    Schumer also wants to prohibit the caterers from operating at any U.S. airport if there is a pattern of offenses.

    The FDA has cited LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group for having poor sanitary conditions in their kitchens, including reported sightings of mice, roaches and listeria.

    Last year, these three caterers provided meals to 675 million airline passengers.

    By Samantha Bomkamp-AP Airlines Writer

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