LAX Based Catering Kitchen Contaminated With Listeria, Most Airlines Continue To Receive Food

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The Los Angeles Airport based catering facility of GateGourmet has an issue as Listeria was detected at their kitchen which caused American Airlines to suspend catering from the LAX facility.

Other airlines such as Delta Airlines (and many more) continue to get their food from the GateGourmet kitchen in question, stating they comply with all health and safety regulations.

Industrial kitchens frequently undergo checks to ensure safe operation of their operation and as soon as traces of Listeria were detected at some floor drains, GateGourmet treated the facility.

You can access the LA Times article that was published yesterday here.

American Airlines has suspended use of a caterer at Los Angeles International Airport after listeria was found in the caterer’s facility, but Delta Air Lines continues to get meals from the kitchen.

A spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Delta said Thursday that the kitchen operated by Gate Gourmet complies with local and federal regulations.

The catering company said it serves other airlines at the airport but won’t identify them. No other airlines have announced that they are stopping service from the Gate Gourmet facility.

A Gate Gourmet spokeswoman said listeria was found in floor drains but not on food-preparation surfaces. She said the kitchen was treated and remains open and continues to serve other airlines.

A spokesman for Fort Worth-based American said the airline decided to stop taking food from the Los Angeles kitchen because of concern over progress in Gate Gourmet’s plan to correct the listeria problem. He said the airline is not aware of contamination at any other Gate Gourmet facilities. …

Listeria is a bacteria that can cause fever and diarrhea, and more dangerous complications in pregnant women, including miscarriages and stillbirths. About 1,600 people are sickened by listeria each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not being able to take on fresh catering from their contracted caterer is going to be quite a challenge for the airline. LAX is a major hub for American Airlines and I seriously doublt they’ll be able to fly all this food in from other GateGourmet destinations.

Remember we’re talking about an airport from which American serves numerous international destinations in Asia, South Pacific and Europe not to talk about the Hawaii flights and all the domestic destinations that are catered with hot meals, especially transcon flights to the east coast.

I’ve digged around on American’s newsroom site and didn’t find any information related to this. We’ve contacted American Airlines Media Relations for more detailed information though and received the following reply:

… Gate Gourmet, which has also been cooperating with state and federal officials, immediately implemented a comprehensive corrective action plan to address this issue. American also brought in outside experts to review this plan, and monitor the ways that Gate Gourmet would address the Listeria issues.

Based on our concerns over the progress of the action plan, we made the decision to suspend the use of catering from this location. While no reports of illness related to the LAX Gate Gourmet catering operation have been reported to American, out of an abundance of caution, we made this decision because we felt it was the right thing to do for our customers and team members.  Although we use Gate Gourmet as a caterer in other locations, we currently do not have any information that suggests that Listeria has been detected at any other facility.

Our team is doing their best to find alternate catering options, and is proactively emailing customers who are affected. Customers who do not receive their standard catering service will receive an electronic travel voucher for use on a future flight. The team is also working to ensure we have required meals in place for our crew members.

Gate Gourmet is one of a number of caterers we use in LAX. We are making alternate arrangements for delivery of catering from other providers, but we may not be able to meet our standard catering levels over the next few days as we work through this complex process.

We know this will have an impact on many of our team members and our customers, and we apologize. The team is committed to resuming our standard level of food service as quickly as possible.

On one hand you have to commend American for having the guts to make a difficult decision that will cause them (and their customers) a lot of trouble. Then again, how much of a risk is it really if all other carriers (such as Delta Airlines) are satisfied with Gate Gourmets progress to tackle this issue.

Conclusion

Not sure what American Airlines main motivations were when they decided to drop the ball on GateGourmet and in fact for how long this will be going on. I’d expect major disruptions in the meal services especially on long haul flights out of LAX for the time being. I remember previously there was another issue with one of the caterers at LAX and supply on board was severely limited. Also, who supplies food to the lounges Lounges at LAX? That would be another point to consider.

If you have long haul reservations ex Los Angeles on American Airlines operated flights it might be worth a short checking with them if these flights will be impacted by the catering issue and if there is a way to change to another carrier, especially when using miles.

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