Comedians have been getting "mileage" out of airline food jokes for years, but news today raises much more serious concerns about the safety of the food. A report by Gary Stoller at USA Today states that:
Many meals served to passengers on major airlines are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions that could lead to illness…FDA inspectors have cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations following inspections of their kitchens this year and last, according to inspection reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
The cited caterers included LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet, and Flying Food Group.
The food generated by these three caterers alone reaches a large number of people – serving 100 million meals annually, including both U.S. and foreign airports. The reports were not pretty:
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.
The caterers responded, saying that they work hard to ensure safety, and include monitoring systems:
LSG Sky Chefs has "comprehensive and multilayered quality-control standards in place to ensure our customers receive safe, healthy and high-quality food," says spokeswoman Beth Van Duyne.
Norbert van den Berg of Gate Gourmet says findings are taken "very seriously" and the company uses an independent auditor for quality assurance. Glenn Caulkins of Flying Food Group also says his company’s facilities are independently audited for quality assurance.
The sheer volume of meals served by the airline caterers make this an important food safety issue.