US: Airplane caterers committed to clean kitchens, food safety
Posted: July 23rd, 2010 - 9:21am
Source: USA Today
Andrew Gibson, president, Gate Gourmet North America, Reston, Va., writes as one of the nation's larger providers of airline catering and provisioning services in the U.S., Gate Gourmet values USA TODAY's concerns about food safety. A recent USA TODAY editorial and article, however, do not recognize a critical fact: Airline caterers operate under more stringent rules and routinely prepare food under better monitored, more sanitary conditions than most home kitchens and restaurants ("Inglorious airline food," Our view, Meals on planes debate, July 16; "Airline food could pose threat," News, June 28).
As a provider that brings together the food and equipment that will serve passengers in the air, we have to manage multiple points in the process to avoid the risk of any food-borne illness to travelers. Minimizing that risk is our first priority. That is why Gate Gourmet goes beyond what is now required by law, following the same principles that NASA created to ensure the safety of astronauts' food.
We are continually improving our processes and technology, and we are committed to keeping our kitchens clean. The examples USA TODAY chose to focus on are isolated and not representative of our industry — and certainly not Gate Gourmet's operations today. Gate Gourmet has never had a confirmed case of a food-borne illness.
Given our commitment to the highest standards, Gate Gourmet supports the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act now before Congress, which establishes more uniform requirements throughout the entire food industry. Policymakers should move forward to ensure that the food served on the ground and in the air meets the same standards of excellence.
Mary Stanik of Minneapolis writes as a former spokeswoman for a major airline and someone who routinely handled all manner of catering and in-flight service issues, I was dismayed to hear of the results of the recent investigation of airline catering services.
Whether the results are isolated matters or issues of continuing occurrence is not the point. The point is that airline food, already the center of jokes and complaints for too many decades, should be as safe to eat as the food we consume in our homes and in restaurants. Whether it is as tasty or nutritious as the other food we consume is another matter.
But when speaking of restaurants, it would be interesting to see just how many of this nation's fast-food establishments, family diners — greasy and clean spoons included — and temples to gourmet cuisine would pass muster if subjected to a similar investigation.
And I don't even want to think about any possible investigation of the kitchens in the country's private homes. I guess the final word to all is: Eater, beware.