Airline Mini-Liquor Bottle Theft Ring Busted At JFK Airport

Holy national security, Batman! A nine-month investigation, known cryptically as “Operation Last Call,” has resulted in the arrest of 18 JFK Airport employees, including three security guards, according to CNN.

The employees were apprehended Wednesday, after being accused of stealing “more than 100,000 mini-bottles of alcohol from LSG Sky chefs, which provides food and beverages for American Airlines,” said the CNN report. Most of the accused were LSG employees.

The alcohol was allegedly sold on the underground market (Why is there an underground market for a legal substance? Just asking.) to local retailers, resulting in an estimated retail value of $750,000.

Now you know how to make those frequent flier miles really add up. Just don’t say I told you so.

FDA report claims airline food could pose major health hazard

An inspection report by the Food and Drug Administration has uncovered some pretty disgusting finds after visits to airline catering kitchens. The inspections took place at U.S. kitchens of Gate Gourmet, LSG Skychefs and Flying Food Group. These three make up the majority of aviation catering.

During the visits, FDA inspectors found food stored at unsafe temperatures, unclean equipment, poor employee hygiene, flies, live roaches and other pests.

A public sanitation consultant hired by USA Today went over the findings, and had the following to say:

“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.”

Naturally, when presented with the results, the three catering firms pledged to take matters “very seriously”, but the fact remains that this is not the first time hygiene and sanitation has been an issue with airline catering. One catering facility has failed to meet FDA standards for the past two years – with floors testing positive for listeria along with ants, flies and other pests.

Even though many domestic airlines stopped feeding passengers in coach, business and first class passengers still get fresh meals, and you’ll also be fed on long haul domestic and international flights. Sooner or later an entire plane full of passengers is going to become violently ill, which is probably the only way the filthy kitchens will really be “taken seriously.”

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[Image from: AFP/Getty Images]

Denver airline kitchen full of roaches, ants and listeria

Earlier today, Tom wrote how airport food scores lower on the inspection chart than airline food.

That may be true for most places, but food prepared in the LSG Skychefs kitchen in Denver doesn’t match those findings.

When an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) inspection team paid a visit to the Denver kitchens of LSG , it found the kind of mess you’d expect from a big city restaurant with bad management.

Inside a facility in charge of making our airline meals, the FDA found so many insects, that they categorized them “TNTC” – too numerous to count.

It found roaches and ants in the repack area, wash rooms, cart washing stations, silverware station and even in the “hot” kitchen. In addition to this, they observed staff handling food with bare hands, water dripping from the ceiling, standing water and several other pretty serious violations.

The worst part, and the finding that frightens me the most, is that the FDA also found samples of Listeria on the floor in the hot kitchen. With poor results like this, it was only a matter of time before planeloads of passengers got sick from the food prepared by this kitchen. You can read the entire facility report here.

LSG Skychefs has had its classification lowered from “approved” to “provisional”, which means they’ll have one chance to be re-evaluated, and a failure will force the FDA to shut down the facility.

An LSG Skychefs representative said they can’t wait for the re-inspection and that they took immediate and effective action as soon as it learned from the findings. They make the whole incident sound fairly trivial by pointing out that they had not received any reports of illnesses or complaints from travelers.

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