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Food Poisoning Health Center

FDA Warns Airlines on Food Safety

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NetCompliance Inc. scours the Internet for government Web sites indicating compliance problems for business. The idea is to keep companies from running afoul with the feds.

Michael Volpe, vice president for corporate communications at NetCompliance says it's disappointing that the airlines weren't more careful. "I think the public is being protected. The point of the matter is you'd like to see the companies get down to a zero risk factor," Volpe tells WebMD.

FDA inspectors also have targeted Amtrak, Greyhound Bus Lines, Inc., and several airport facilities. Companies are given 30 days to correct their deficiencies or face further sanctions.

The head of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a watchdog nutrition group, says airline food is not a trivial matter. "The airlines have to be every bit as careful in selecting their food suppliers as they are in selecting their airplanes," Caroline Smith DeWaal tells WebMD.

For example, in 1993, 47 passengers aboard a flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Providence, R.I., suffered a bout of Escherichia coliinfectionfrom a contaminated salad prepared by an airline caterer.

However, passengers at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport seemed prepared to take airline food for better or for worse. "I rarely eat it. ... I don't care for the food. I don't know how long it's been sitting out. ... I bring my own food or I don't eat at all," passenger Dawn Fiffick tells WebMD.

"Never had a problem with spoiled food from an airline; been traveling now for about 30 years or so. ... I hope today doesn't begin my streak of bad luck," passenger Charles Fuller tells WebMD.

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