Troubled American Airlines now faces a new challenge after filing for bankruptcy, one based on wrongful death by airline food.
CNN reports that the family of Othon Cortes is suing the airlines and its cater Sky Chefs for over one million dollars, alleging that food Mr. Cortes ate while on an AA flight from Barcelona to New York City was contaminated with Clostridium perfringens bacteria. Mr. Cortes died shortly after arrival in New York City while enroute to his home in Miami. AA and Sky Chefs are looking into the claim.
This story comes after a FDA report last year into airline catering companies found numerous violations. 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 by US Today.
The inspections were at U.S. facilities of two of the world’s biggest airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, and another large caterer, Flying Food Group. The three caterers operate 91 kitchens that provide more than 100 million meals annually to U.S. and foreign airlines at U.S. airports. They provide meals for nearly all big airlines, including Delta, American, United, US Airways and Continental.
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.
“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,” says Roy Costa, a consultant and public health sanitarian. Conditions open the door to food-poisoning outbreaks, says Costa, a former Florida state food inspector who volunteered to review the FDA reports obtained by USA TODAY (emphasis added).
While domestic food service on flights is under scrutiny look for signs (smells, appearance, taste) that food might be spoiled or contaminated (some pathogens won’t leave any trace to notice), look at expiration dates, and if you feel sick, seek immediate medical attention.
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