Filthy Airline Food? It's a Fight Between A Union & Food Supplier

It's just before noon, a Japan Airlines flight has just arrived at LAX from Tokyo. On that flight is Josue Ochoa on his way back to Mexico from Tokyo. Does he ever think about the food on the planes he uses? Who prepares the food? How is it prepared? yes of course," he says, "that's what we're stuck with so, it better be good."

But, a food provider for Japan and other airlines, Flying Food Group, is in the cross hairs of a flyer put out by the union UNITE HERE. The flyer includes FDA information and interviews with workers at Flying Food Group. Leigh Shelton, with UNITE HERE, says,.. "More than half of workers surveyed reported the presence of insects and rodents in the kitchen. They reported that regularly dishwashers break down leaving workers to clean giant pots and pans by hand."

Leigh Shelton said their survey of 60 of the company's workers showed that 70% of them have come to work sick. And, sometimes, there is no soap available to wash their hands.

Despite repeated efforts we could not get a representative of the company to speak on camera, but in a statement sent us by their PR firm in Chicago their representative said:

"The so-called report is just the latest example of labor union UNITE HERE making false allegations and exploiting our employees in a desperate attempt to disrupt our business and advance their union agenda."

Shelton says in response, "Well, workers are working in conditions in the kitchens that are dire so. Make no mistake, the median wage of surveyed workers is just $10.04 an hour."

The company's statement says, "Our employees receive competitive pay and benefits (which often exceed those paid to unionized employees), and enjoy safe and comfortable working conditions, including a cafeteria with free hot meals, salad bar, fruit and other snacks"

We contacted the FDA. They sent Flying Good Group a warning letter back in 2011 for unacceptable conditions that, among other things found, that "food handling operations were not conducted in a manner that minimizes the possibility of contamination of food or drink..." then, two years later they were cleared from the warning.

The FDA's inspection database, however, shows that a number of times Flying Food Group was asked to make voluntary adjustments even as late as February 2015.

The company says in May it underwent an unannounced two-day inspection by a third party expert they hired. They say the results of the audit were excellent.

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