Are We There Yet? In-Flight Food Safety and Cabin Crew Hygiene Practices
Amid the rapid expansion of global air traffic, aviation food safety is a critical issue (Huizer, Swaan, Leitmeyer, & Timen, 2015). More than 1 billion in-flight meals are served annually (Jones, 2006) and the aviation catering market is expected to be worth $18 billion by 2021 ("Global $18 billion in-flight catering services market," 2017). Food served on planes is prepared in industrial kitchens close to airports and then transported to planes where it is stored, reheated, and served. The process is complex, with many opportunities for food contamination. Although food preparation on the ground is subject to considerable regulation at both the national and international level, similar rules do not apply to food served in-flight. Airline caterers might need to comply with local food safety regulations, those of the country of the aircraft registration, those of the destination country, and international food safety guidelines (Solar, 2019). While there are greater challenges to ensuring in-flight food safety, we argue that the same food safety principles used in establishments "on-ground" should be applied to in-flight food services. This guest commentary considers one key factor of in-flight food hygiene: the availability of hand washing facilities for cabin crew.
Speaker / Author:
Andrea Grout, MSc, College of Business, Law, and Governance, James Cook University
Elizabeth M. Speakman, MA, MSc, Edinburgh Napier University, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine