Is food safe at airline operations at Los Angeles airport

Whenever I fly, I avoid LAX. The Los Angeles airport is a mess, with terminals scattered all around, but you may see a porn star (or wannabe). federal inspector on a routine visit to food service facilities at Los Angeles International Airport in January found conditions that, she wrote, could compromise the safety of food meant for airline passengers.

Bathrooms where employees washed their hands were dirty. Machines used to control bacteria were not adequately maintained. And clutter in the food storage area created a potential for pests, the inspector for the Food and Drug Administration wrote, according to a report.

The Los Angeles facilities were one of several catering operations owned and operated by Flying Food Group, which prepares meals for some of the world’s largest airlines. Inspectors over the past few years have found unsanitary conditions in several kitchens operated by the company.

Friend of the barfblog, Roy Costa, said, “There is a real risk of illness and injury to tens of thousands of airline passengers on a daily basis.”

But another friend of the barfblog, Paul A. Hall, vice president for food safety and quality at Flying Food Group, acknowledged the findings of the F.D.A. inspections cited in the union report, but added that the problems at the facilities had been fixed. The company also said the report from the union was part of an effort to organize workers at the company.

“While we strive for perfection in all we do, F.F.G. acknowledges that at times we fall short of that goal,” he said in an email. “However, once issues are identified, a root cause analysis is conducted and actions taken based on that analysis. If repeat problems occur, we keep looking for solutions until we find the effective one.”

Dr. Hall said workers were encouraged to take problems to the attention of their managers. But workers at the Los Angeles facility said in interviews that managers rarely listened to their complaints.

They said that dishwashing machines regularly broke down, leaving workers to wash plates and other dishes by hand, often without detergent; that managers had ordered workers to change the dates indicating when food was prepared; and that they had seen insects and rodents in areas where food was being prepared.

Flying Food disputes these accusations. In a statement, the company said it had received no complaints from employees about problems with food safety or unsanitary conditions at its Los Angeles facilities. It said an outside auditor hired by several airlines, including Air France, had recently inspected the facilities and given them high marks for quality and food safety.