Tag Archives: airports

Airplane food caterers cited for health violations

After finding critical health violations at airport restaurants last year, USA Today reporters are at it again. This time, Gary Stoller has reviewed FDA documents that show violations by the catering companies that prepare the food served on the planes themselves.

airplanefood

Photo by Mr. Mystery via Flickr

According to Stoller, “the inspections were at U.S. facilities of two of the world’s biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and another large caterer, Flying Food Group.” Between them, they provide 100 million meals to U.S. air travelers each year and run 91 separate kitchens.

The FDA reports say many facilities store food at improper temperatures, use unclean equipment and employ workers who practice poor hygiene. At some, there were cockroaches, flies, mice and other signs of inadequate pest control.

“In spite of best efforts by the FDA and industry, the situation with in-flight catered foods is disturbing, getting worse and now poses a real risk of illness and injury to tens of thousands of airline passengers on a daily basis,” says Roy Costa, a consultant and public health sanitarian.

Airport dining proves to be a food safety challenge

USA Today‘s Alison Young reviewed inspection reports for hundreds of restaurants at 10 airports and found a large number of critical violations, including 42 percent of the restaurants reviewed at Seattle-Tacoma and 77 percent of restaurants reviewed at Reagan National Airport.

seatac
“Food court in the Sea-Tac Airport.” Photo by WarderJack via Flickr

The most common culprits? “Grab-and-go” sandwiches and related foods, which aren’t kept cold enough to ward off food-borne pathogens.

Young notes that it’s hard to pinpoint the number sickened by airport sandwiches, as it’s difficult to track foodborne illness back to a specific source even when the customers aren’t constantly boarding airplanes and taking off for all corners of the earth.

Scott Hensley, on NPR’s Shots blog, recently noted an FDA warning to a Denver kitchen that prepared thousands of meals a day for airlines:

We can sum up the findings in the LSG SkyChefs facility a few months back with a four-letter abbreviation used to describe the roaches and other insects found there: TNTC.

That stands for Too Numerous To Count.

Hensley runs down some of the other problems found there and a reaction from the company spokeswoman.