Airline Caterer Cited For Listeria, Roaches

LSG Sky Chefs, a firm that makes food for the airline industry, was recently warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after an agency inspection revealed both live and dead cockroaches and <"">Listeria bacteria at LSG’s Denver facility, said the Associated Press (AP).

According to the AP, the FDA advised the company that it could be banned from selling food to airlines at Denver Airport if further violations are found in future inspections. LSG claims it resolved its kitchen issues, added the AP, including firing its manager and head chef. Deutsche Lufthansa AG owns LSG Sky Chefs, which provides food to Delta, American, and United airlines, among others, and has 43 kitchens nationwide, said the AP. Beth Van Duyne, LSG spokeswoman, said it replaced pipes and a drain when the dangerous Listeria pathogen could not be killed with chemical treatments, noted the AP.

The FDA letter indicated that its inspectors found live and dead roaches in quantities “too numerous to count” in a variety of kitchen areas that, shockingly included, no less that “40 live insects in the silverware station,” said the AP. Employees were seen touching food with either bare hands or while wearing dirty gloves, water was found dripping from the ceiling into areas in which utensils are cleaned, and holes in the facility’s walls were found that could easily be home for bugs and vermin, said the AP.

In an interview, H. Thomas Warwick Jr., director of the FDA’s Denver office, said such bad conditions are not typically seen today because of improved practices and increased inspections, said the AP. Warwick Jr. said a repeat visit will occur shortly, the AP added.

We routinely report on problems linked to food borne pathogenic illnesses, such as Listeria monocytogenes. While we continually stress that Listeriosis, the infection caused by the Listeria pathogen, is dangerous and can often be deadly, a recent study concluded that the risk is greater than first believed. Medical News previously reported that a study found risks for severe effects of Listeria exposure in sensitive groups might occur at lower doses than prior studies suggested.

Listeriosis can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth of a baby suffering from the infection. Pregnant women are about 20 times likelier than others to be infected, with about one-third of all Listeriosis cases occurring during pregnancy. Listeriosis can kill fetuses, prompt premature births, and can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns and neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults, reported the LATimes.

Listeria is responsible for an estimated 2,500 illnesses in the United States annually, with about 200 in every 1,000 cases resulting in death, or some 500 fatalities each year. Listeria infection can take days, even weeks, to develop and can present in anything from a mild flu-like illness to meningitis and septicemia.

Contamination can occur in meat and poultry as well as vegetables tainted via soil or fertilizer.

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