June 29th, 2010
01:16 PM ET

Rodent droppings, roaches found in airline food prep

Not only do airlines charge you for it… it’s infested with roaches and mice droppings, according to a report by USA Today.

The newspaper reports that the major facilities that prepare airline food had numerous health and sanitation violations. Among them: improper temperatures, use of unclean equipments, poor hygiene by employees, cockroaches, flies, mice (including their nesting materials) and inadequate pest control.  These included airline caterers, LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, according to its report.

But the number of meals served by airlines is on the decline. On that note, Eatocracy’s editor bemoans  the state of meals on a plane.

Bon appétit.

soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Carl

    Yum- I always thought that airline food had a little something extra for taste

    June 29, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • k

      anyone who thinks there isn't rodent dropping and alot worse in probably what you eat every day, probably has never worked in a restaurant or a factory where they make food

      June 30, 2010 at 08:17 | Report abuse |
  2. Cynic

    I think the airlines should let us bring our own food on the plane. The service is getting worse; airlines are looking for costs to cut. It seems obvious that this would be a win-win situation.

    June 29, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      Since when do airlines restrict bringing your own food on flights?

      June 29, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • David in Seattle

      And to compound the problem, TSA doesn't let us bring anything spreadable or soft. And of course no drinks.

      June 29, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      People can bring their own food on the plane. I remember one couple brought on some clam chowder in bread bowls onto the plane. It was disgusting. I had to smell rank shellfish the entire flight.

      June 29, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • lois

      I always bring my own food so I can eat what I want when I want. Getting it on the plane has never been a problem for me. I pack it in throw away tupperware with a throw away ice block and use plastic silverware – cold pasta YUM or a sandwich is great, fruit, yogurt...

      June 30, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
  3. Ron


    Most airlines already allow passengers to bring food on the plane. In fact, I don't know any airline in the US that doesn't.


    June 29, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joan

      Not really the point with all due respect

      June 29, 2010 at 16:25 | Report abuse |

    whe are they gonna start charging extra for that?

    June 29, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cindy

      nah, that's just the friendly staff saying thank you...

      June 29, 2010 at 19:19 | Report abuse |
  5. Bravo1

    See? Now we're all happy not to be served airline food!

    June 29, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mad Doc

    By gone the days of good food, friendly smiles of stewardress, pillow provider and blanket-spreader for those conked out passengers. Anyone here old enough to remember, "Come and Fly the Friendly Skies"? Now there is a new slogan being circulated, "Come and Get Rip Off!"

    June 29, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Charles

    As a health inspector... improper temperatures (happens all the time), unclean equipment (it's a meat slicer), poor hygiene by employees (handwashing, they're probably using hand sanitizer), cockroaches (nasty but all over in some areas), flies (samething, especially in warm climates and doors left open), mice and nesting materials (happens all the time in old buildings but nasty), inadequate pest control (just a tacked on charge, of course it's inadequate). To say the food is infested with roaches and mice droppings, that's going to get USA Today a lawsuit if they can't prove it. It's almost impossible for a reasonable food prep establishment to get actual contamination into food and that isn't what the report read.

    June 29, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rlj

      Yeah, not a bog deal – what's the worst that can happen – a few hundred poeple could get sick or die...

      June 29, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  8. me in NH

    it's amazing they are still in business. US airlines have some of the worst food & customer service in the world. they airline employess give you dirty looks when you ask for more ice...etc...

    June 29, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me in SC

      I agree wholeheartedly. I wish our airlines were more like the Far East airlines where age is a limitation (oh yeah, age discrimination). But they are far friendlier, cordial, and emphasize service. Unions are a double-edged sword and sometimes protect those disgruntled employees that make the others look bad. I know this isn't about the bad food however cordial, pleasant flight attendants would go far towards improving customer service. There's too much 'attitude' towards us 'normal' passengers (I'm not speaking about the unruly ones, who make flying miserable for everyone involved). Regardless, I doubt positive change will ever occur in service. It is what it is....

      June 30, 2010 at 02:59 | Report abuse |
  9. wren7

    Well, that cinches it. Not that I've been prone to do so, but I will never, ever pay for food on an airline in the future. I'll eat in the terminal before boarding. This is beyond disgusting. Aren't these places inspected - ever?

    June 29, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Fiona

    The person who posted about not being able to bring their own food on the plane has a point. Because of restrictions on liquids, and the overzealousness of some TSA stations in some airports, bringing food from home can be risky (it may be confiscated at the gate). So if you don't want to eat the filthy garbage served on board, you end up buying overpriced, often unwholesome food at the airport. And when the smells of all those different meals that people do bring on board intermingle, it is enough to make me ill (and has done on some flights). I try to go without eating, or bring fruit, crackers, granola bars. But that can be difficult on a long trip with multiple legs. Flying is difficult enough these days - we should not have to be afraid of the food and water on board the planes (the tank water on board is polluted, too).

    June 29, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mark L.

    As a frequent flyer, I find it remorsefully disgusting....absolutely despicable...Thank Heaven I never touch the garbage they serve via the airlines...

    June 29, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. thechanger

    So next time I will bring on some home made chicken satay with peanut sauce and the guy next to me (yeah that guy with the severe peanut allergy) will go into anaphylactic shock and they will jail me for assault and the guy will sue me for all of the money I don't have! Sweet.

    June 29, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NYC thom

      Lol! They are now looking at "peanut free zones" in airlines to protect what Darwin would have tossed as the weaker of the species. We need to weed those not worthy of natural selection out! This is where it starts!

      June 29, 2010 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    Perhaps if they'd lower the price of the food, passengers would not complain about eating the roaches and rodent poop.
    I understand that Air France has been getting rave reviews for years, serving such fare.

    June 29, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply

    In the 50s and 60s great prep went into cooking family meals. the freshest veggies and meats were carefully selected. Kids took home economics and phys-ed in schools. Kids played outside untill dark. sugar intake was well regulated by our parents. Going out to dinner ever so often was a treat. snacking in between meals was almost unheard of. This was before X Bot, junk food establishments on every corner. Rember? Oh, did I mention that parents knew how to cook!

    June 29, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jefffffff

      what's an xbot?

      June 29, 2010 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
    • GhostHunter

      What happend to proper grammar?

      July 1, 2010 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
  15. smirk

    articles like this will only make the problem worse. now they are going to start charging for these "extras"

    June 29, 2010 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. james hollis

    Once I got on a plane, got to my seat which was to be nearest the window, and there was big fat woman with a large bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in her lap. Got that greasy crap all over the place.

    June 29, 2010 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jimthedo, Phoenix, AZ

    F the corrupt airline industry!

    June 29, 2010 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. truebob

    I learned at my first restaurant job: if you don't want roach by products in your food, don't eat out. It's been 40 years in the biz and it is still the rule to remember.

    June 29, 2010 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jerry

    Don't complain if you find a roach in your food or you will be charged extra

    June 29, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. NYC thom

    I read somewhere that it costs $135.00 to feed me on my flight to china.
    Lousy steak marinated in water... 6.95 at sizzler
    3 lousy side dishes – 2.95 at sizzle
    bread – free at Sizzler
    after meal treat 3.95 at sizzler
    mid flight snack. – 6.95 at Applebees
    breakfast – 6.95 at Shoney's
    hmmmm... Actually better food at a fraction of the cost. I'm in the wrong business!

    June 29, 2010 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason B

      It is exactly this kind of nonsense that people read on the Internet and repeat as though it is true that makes discussion so pointless. If an airline meal cost $135 then the airlines would be bankrupt. $1.35 would be more realistic although $2-3 would be my estimate, excluding drinks of course.

      And to counter all those who think airline food is so bad, one caterer thinks theirs is so good that they are going into the ready meal business selling direct to the public.

      Almost all the commenters here have read the headline and drawn their own conclusion that airline food is infested. Absolute rubbish. Thankfully, someone qualified to comment did so (Charles, health inspector) and he read beyond the screaming headline. If only more people did.

      June 30, 2010 at 02:24 | Report abuse |
    • JeninGA

      Well, at least on your flight to China you got food. We are flying out in a few weeks and I checked the tickets – no meals, just "food available for purchase" REALLY?? On an 12 hour flight? I was pretty POd...well until I read this article. Maybe we'll just pack our own (don't worry neigbor across the isle, we don't eat seafood or fried chicken!).

      June 30, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  21. jason

    thats why you dont hire orkin or terminix they suck. hire local company

    June 29, 2010 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. TRACEY

    And should have child free zone

    June 29, 2010 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. TRACEY

    I will eat the food but the screaming baby for 6 hours I dont think its cute leave it HOME

    June 29, 2010 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr. Bill

      TRACEY – you once were a screaming baby too...oh wait you still are screaming... we are need to learn to be tolerant of others...even those who complain about others

      June 30, 2010 at 06:20 | Report abuse |
  24. Penelope

    yuuuuuuk!!!! Have you ever heard the rumor about how many spider parts are in your average candy bar?? I am sure that there is alot we don't know about food we eat that is not prepared by ourselves.

    June 29, 2010 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. SAM

    Oh maybe its passive Tirds now

    June 30, 2010 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. JAH-STER


    June 30, 2010 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Reason

    Wow, if this keeps up, they may stop serving meals on US Domestic flights... oh... wait a second...Never mind.

    June 30, 2010 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. luv2fly

    this is about the catering companies, not the airlines....and these catering companies service several different airlines, both US and overseas carriers. I doubt that food prep conditions in the food courts at airport terminals are any better, or at any restaurant anywhere for that matter!!

    June 30, 2010 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. alkemiker

    I think that there is a service charge in here somewhere. Food with droppings $10, food without droppings $20?

    June 30, 2010 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. otto

    I heard American is charging 25 cents a turd premiums.

    June 30, 2010 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rmj92

    a friend of mine who is an airline mechanic told me to never drink the coffee/tee offered to us while on a plane. He said that the water lines on most larger commercial airplanes are slimmy with pink and black mold because the water lines are only "deep cleaned" once or twice a year when the plane comes into maintenance for a heavy overhaul. He also said that your table/try is basically a petry dish of DNA and germ samples and ALSO that the average airline seat has at least one piece of chewing gum stuck underneath it and that when they change the seat cushion covers that most of the cushions have pee (or worse!!) stains on them. I can see all you fellow germ a phobes freaking out now. Why don't they just change the name from airplane to STAPH mobile.

    June 30, 2010 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Jim

    I am an American lliving and working in Shanghai and travel around Asia extensively. Here, the flight attendants are still polite and attractive, offer pillows and blankets with a smile, and feed you simple, but decent meals. If the girls get too fat, sorry, next in line please. If you want a beer, there is no charge, even in economy. The planes are kept clean and there are headsets are in every seat pocket. And oh, by the way, the video and sound systems acutally work. Announcements are made by the flight attendants in complete sentences and in a polite tone. They may struggle with the English version of the announcement (some are hilarious), but they try hard. I've been in the LSG and Gate Gourmet flight kitchens here and can tell you, while they may not be up to the highest standards, there is more attention being paid to sanitation and food safety here than some of the kitchens I have been to in the States. The US airlines have cut their sevice and standards to the bone, and the folks working with them have no incentive to get excited about taking better care of passengers. All it takes is one flight within Asia to feel the difference.

    June 30, 2010 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. mabel floyd

    one thing about all the overcharges for luggage - food–pillows–blankets–the executives have their own private planes. they certainly do not lower themselves to use their own product. i notice that even in first class the seats are getting smaller–the seat coverings are cheeper and the leg room getting smaller. i do not blame the plane attendances. they can only do what they are told. blame the upper mgm. they are cushioned from the discomforts experienced by their customers and they think the bottom line is all that matters.–esp at bonus time. screw the customers–nothing they can do–pretty soon they will charge you for getting on and off the plane–oh wait–they are already discussing that and will soon have that charge in place.
    ok–now how is that deregulation working for you?

    July 1, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Art Marani

    One thing I recomend is that you empty your dishwasher frequently. Roaches are attracted to the left over food particles and damp area a dirty dishwasher provides.

    July 19, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ricki Khairallah

    also I say is that you clean out your dishwasher often. Roaches are attracted to the left over food crumbs and the moist area a dirty dishwasher provides.

    August 16, 2010 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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