Food and Drug Administration inspectors cited numerous catering facilities that prepare airline food for suspected health and sanitation violations following inspections of their kitchens in 2009 and this year, inspection reports obtained by USA Today indicated.
The inspections were at U.S. facilities of airline caterers LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group, which operate 91 kitchens providing more than 100 million meals annually for U.S. and foreign air carriers at U.S. airports, USA Today reported Monday.
Unsafe and unsanitary conditions cited at many facilities include storing food at improper temperatures, using unclean equipment and employing workers using poor hygiene practices. At some, there were cockroaches, flies, mice and other signs of inadequate pest control, the reports obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request indicated.
"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," said Roy Costa, a consultant and public health sanitarian.
Representatives for all three caterers told the newspaper they work hard to ensure food is safe. Officials at airlines said they monitor the food that is on their planes.