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Airline Food Handlers Say LAX Kitchens Are Filthy

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Tray of food on a business class flight (Photo by StudioSmart via Shutterstock)
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Workers at an airline food-prepping company at LAX say the kitchens are straight-up filthy, and they've spotted insects and rodents crawling around, according to a report released today.

Unite Here!, a union that represents airline workers, surveyed 60 employees who work in the two kitchens Flying Food Group (FFG) operates at LAX, according to CBS Los Angeles. The company preps and cooks the packaged meals (you know, the ones you eat in-flight) that get delivered to big-name airlines like Air France-KLM, British Airways and Qantas. They're also in charge of washing the dishes and packing the meals onto the carts that get delivered to the trucks, according to the report.

There were some disturbing findings from the survey. More than half of the workers surveyed said they saw insects or rodents roaming around the kitchen. An anonymous worker told Unite Here!, "Last year, a co-worker found a cockroach in her salad from the cafeteria, and the lettuce sometimes is a dark color…. Two months ago, in my department we found two mice… Also, there are many mosquitos and other insects in the room where I work. But I have only seen the area fumigated one time, which was last summer [sic]."

Others said FFG used spoiled or dirty food in their meals. Four workers said their managers told them to change the dates on the prepped food, so it ended up being hard to figure out the dates that the meals were actually prepared.

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Oftentimes the dishwashing machines are broken, so workers have had to clean the dishes by hand, the report says. And even then, workers said sometimes there wouldn't be any dishwashing detergent, so the employees rinsed the dishes with just hot water. *shudder*

FFG argues that the accusations are false, and that no employees have previously filed complaints about the kitchens before this report came out. In a statement to the New York Times, FFG said, "We believe this is simply another example of labor union Unite Here making false allegations in a desperate attempt to disrupt our business and organize our employees through misinformation and falsehoods."

The union tells the Times they're not trying to disrupt FFG's business. In Union Here!'s report, it says that Food and Drug Administration inspectors have written complaints during their routine inspections. Some of the write-ups said some of FFG's food was stored at inadequate temperatures, which could make passengers sick. A lack of proper drainage areas could lead to food being contaminated or attract pests, and tools meant to measure the control the growth of bacteria weren't being maintained, the report said.

Paul A. Hall, the vice president for food safety and quality at FFG, told the Times that he was aware of the FDA reports in Union Here!'s report, but said they fixed those issues.