Analysis: Biggest Threat To Your Safety Isn’t The Plane’s Maintenance – But the Food


united-airlinesMany Americans fear for their safety while flying, scared of the possibility of something going wrong with the plane’s maintenance. It turns out, however, the biggest safety issue you face while flying could be the¬†food served by the airlines.More than half a billion meals are made by some of the largest airline food kitchens in the United States. A recent analysis by some of Food and Drug Administration inspection records found that food preparation in some of these kitchens is a recipe for disaster.

Violations include roaches, mice, unsanitary conditions and no place for employees to wash their hands.

“Volume always leads to problems,” said Brian Buckley of the Institute of Culinary Education. “Obviously there’s not a lot of accountability.”

Food preparation in all three area airports were cited for violations, including LSG Sky Chef, for food that was subject to contamination, employees not washing hands thoroughly, touching food surfaces with bare hands and failure to clean and sanitize to protect food from contamination.

When CBS 2 went to their LaGuardia Airport facility for answers, there was no comment.

A spokesperson for the company said they make 405 million meals a year and that “we have comprehensive and multilayered quality control standards in place to ensure our customers receive safe, healthy and high quality…food. And those systems are check and confirmed through a series of approximately 400 audits a year.

“I would say the FDA is woefully inadequate in most aspects of our food protection,” Buckley said.

At Gate Gourmet, the FDA found they failed to keep food at safe temperatures, failed to keep equipment clean, there was no hot water for hand washing in the restroom and there were black residues in the kitchens and on the ice machine. The makers of 50 million meals said their inspections are taken very seriously and assist us in further improving our service.

According to food safety experts, the issue is a lack of oversight when it comes to cleaning and food preparation, leading to dangerous conditions for diners.

And Flying Food, which has facilities in Newark, JFK and across the US, has been cited for failure to test for dangerous microbes, not taking precautions for contamination, lack of proper hand washing facilities and lack of adequate drainage which may provide a breeding place for pests.

“We now service our JFK customers from a brand new $32 million state of the art airline catering facility that raises the bar on quality cleanliness and efficiency,” the company said.

Some of the violations cited were immediately fixed while inspectors were on hand, others persisted through multiple sanitary visits.

{CBS/Noam Newscenter}