What You Should Know Before You Eat Airplane Food
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What You Should Know Before You Eat Airplane Food

What You Should Know Before You Eat Airplane Food

By Melissa Darling

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See LinkedIn


Everyone knows the quirks of traveling. Getting to the airport early, not wearing a belt and lace up shoes on the security line, and most importantly, the airport food. It’s no secret that when you’re miles high, the food isn’t top notch. There are a few things you should know about the airplane food before you start eating it. Perhaps its a good idea to get your own food ahead of time.

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We are all familiar with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the food safety for airline caterers and airlines is regulated by the well known FDA. However, the FDA requires inspections of this industry far less frequently than it recommends local health agencies to inspect restaurants. According to an NBC news investigation of airline catering, this industry was found to have limited oversight in which outbreaks are difficult to track. Even when investigations do happen they rarely lead to penalties, regardless of the fact that they reveal serious safety violations — as many as 22 in a single inspection. According to the FDA rules, airline caterers only have to be inspected every three to five years. These random inspections happen  “when time and opportunity allow,” according to an agency manual. In comparison to this, the FDA food codes recommends that local authorities inspect food establishments every six months. Why are airline caterers the exception to this rule? This is because the FDA considers them different from restaurants because caterers do not sell food directly to consumers, but are contracting with airlines that do.

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Regardless of the actual health precautions you should take when considering airline food, you should also think about what it’s doing to your body. Not eating while you fly can actually help to reduce jet lag, according to experts. When you’re flying at such high altitudes, it takes a toll on your body. One bodily function that shuts down at high altitudes is your digestive system. Therefore, if you’re eating the loosely-regulated, salty airline food during your flight, your body needs to go into overdrive in order to process it while flying. This causes an even worse groggy and fatigued feeling after leaving the flight. Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of luxury air travel firm Indagare, told Bloomberg, “Most people overeat because it’s a diversion, or a way to pass the time, but even the best plane food is over-salted and preserved so it can be microwaved.”
As we can see, maybe eating during our next flight is out of the question. Not only because of the lethargy that is our imminent doom, but also because it is not properly regulated. Just within the past four years, FDA inspectors have found condensation dripping onto food, fans blowing dust on food, thermometers off by as much as 25 degrees, raw meat contaminating cooked meat, and moldy bread. This is just to name a few offenses. Eat before your flight, folks.

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