With airlines charging $4 for a tiny container of crackers and cheese these days, we're not sure who's buying in-cabin meals and snacks anymore.
Cockroaches were found at a Denver kitchen that makes thousands of airline meals a day.
Cockroaches were found at a Denver kitchen that makes thousands of airline meals a day. iStockphoto.com
But the Food and Drug Administration just gave us another reason to think twice about a purchase: nasty conditions in a Denver kitchen preparing an average of 35,000 meals a day for airlines ranging from American to United.
We can sum up the findings in the LSG SkyChefs facility a few months back with a four-letter abbreviation used to describe the roaches and other insects found there: TNTC.
That stands for Too Numerous To Count. Yikes!
Here are a few of the problems cited by the FDA in a written warning to the company that was released yesterday:
- Cart wash area - Live and dead roach-like insects too numerous to count (TNTC);
- Repack area - Live roaches (TNTC), as well as ants;
- Dish machine wash area - At least 13 dead roaches inside the machine loading area and 31 or more dead nearby the machine.
Inspectors also found evidence of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, a cause of serious foodborne illness.
The FDA downgraded the status of the facility to "provisional" from "approved." If the kitchen fails a reinspection, airlines would be prohibited from using food from the Denver facility.
Beth Van Duyne, a spokeswoman for LSG Skychefs, told us the company "cannot wait for that reinspection to happen." The company took "immediate, effective and proactive action" as soon as it learned of the findings, she said. A reinspection could take place as soon as the week of January 4, she told us.
"We make no excuses," she said. "This is unacceptable to the standards that LSG has held itself to for 70 years now." No customers have canceled their orders, she said, and the company hasn't received any reports of illnesses or complaints from travelers.
As for the Listeria, Van Duyne said the positive samples that FDA found were from a drain in the facility floor—not from food or any food-preparation surface. The company replaced the pipes, she said.