Is Airline Food a Health Risk?

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Airline food may look unappetizing, and it turns out it may also have the potential of making you sick.

USA Today looked at government documents prepared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and found many airline meals are prepared in unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

According to the newspaper, FDA inspectors cited many airline catering kitchens for suspected health and sanitation violations over the past two years.

The caterers were LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet, two of the world's biggest in in-flight catering, and Flying Food Group. The newspaper says the three caterers together prepare more than 100 million meals each year for U.S. carriers and international airlines flying from the U.S.

Together they operate 91 kitchens and cater all the major airlines including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental.

According to USA Today, the FDA reports show issues with food stored at improper temperatures, unclean equipment and workers with poor hygiene. The newspaper reports that at some facilities, there are "cockroaches, flies, mice and other signs of inadequate pest control."

USA Today obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

A public health sanitation consultant, Roy Costa, told the newspaper the conditions were ripe for food poisoning outbreaks and the situation with the in-flight caterers was "disturbing, getting worse and now poses a real risk of illness and injury to tens of thousands of airline passengers on a daily basis."

The three caterers told the newspaper they follow standards to keep the food safe and hire independent auditors for quality assurance. The airlines said they also monitor food that goes on their planes.

Photo, simon welsh, flickr
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