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Schumer wants tough airline catering rules

July 2, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, N.Y., July 2 (UPI) -- Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged a federal watchdog agency to adopt tougher airline caterer oversight, saying unhealthy food preparation is unacceptable.

Schumer said the Food and Drug Administration should impose new regulations that would ban caterers with numerous health code violations from operating at U.S. airports, USA Today reported Friday.

His call for stronger enforcement came after a USA Today investigation found many meals served on major airlines are prepared in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. The newspaper's findings were based on FDA inspection reports since January 2009 of 46 U.S. facilities operated by three major caterers, LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Flying Food Group.

The unsafe and unsanitary conditions "would never be tolerated at a restaurant," Schumer said. Among other things, Schumer said he would seek stiffer penalties -- up to $50,000 per violation -- for repeat violations. The fine now is $1,000 per violation, he said.

Airline passengers "should not have to accept a lesser standard just because their food is served on a plane," the senator said.

FDA spokesman Ira Allen said the agency would respond to Schumer directly.

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