This story was updated at 2:55 p.m. to include Delta action.
Two airlines have joined American Airlines in suspending the use of a catering facility at Los Angeles International Airport because of a listeria finding.
American suspended use of the Gate Gourmet LAX facility on Nov. 1. Virgin Australia Airlines made a similar decision “mid-last week,” a spokeswoman said on Sunday. Delta said Monday that it had made the same decision.
The facility remains open, a Gate Gourmet spokeswoman said. No cases of listeriosis have been reported. Gate Gourmet discovered the listeria during a routine inspection.
“While the LAX kitchen where Delta’s food is prepared remains in compliance with local and federal regulations, Delta has temporarily adjusted catering operations so Gate Gourmet can take more aggressive actions to further improve food safety,” Delta said in a prepared statement.
“This move is out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our customers,” the carrier said. “Delta has made alternate catering arrangements so there is no interruption to its on-board food offerings.”
American, which said earlier it acted due to “an abundance of caution,” has not resumed use of facility and has not made any decision regarding resumption, spokeswoman Katie Cody said Sunday.
Virgin America had made its passengers aware of its decision in a letter dated Nov. 11. The carrier flies daily between Sydney and LAX.
“Virgin Australia recently stopped using the services of our onboard catering company at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) due to a potential issue with the standard of their food,” according to a letter dated Nov. 11th and distributed to passengers.
“We’re making alternative arrangements for our LAX onboard catering but over the coming days there will be limited catering available on flights from Los Angeles,” the letter said.
“Guests will still receive a food service onboard; however we’re sorry this won’t be up to our normal high standards,” it said. “We are providing guests with food voucher so they can also purchase additional food prior to their flight.”
Although American elected to suspend food deliveries from the LAX Gate Gourmet kitchen to its aircraft after the trace of listeria was found, other airlines had continued to use the caterer.
They included Air Lingus, Fiji, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic and Level as well as Delta and Virgin Australia, according to a person familiar with the incident.
Gate Gourmet spokeswoman Catherine Nugent said Monday that “we remain committed to delivering a safe and efficient service.
“We reaffirm that our LAX facility is operating without restriction and continues to comply with all local and federal regulations,” Nugent said in an email.
“When we identified the issue on non-food contact areas at our LAX catering kitchen, we immediately enacted our remediation cleaning protocols with an aggressive treatment and comprehensive testing plan,” she said. “Independent food safety agencies have confirmed that our LAX airline catering facility fully complies with food safety regulations and we are not aware of any instance where passengers have been put at risk. “
“Food safety is our highest priority,” Nugent said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control website, listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food with the bacterium listeria monocytogenes. An estimated 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, the CDC said, and about 260 die. The infection is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older and people with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions, according to a notice issued by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American flight attendants. It said that most people with mild symptoms require no treatment, while more serious infections can be treated with antibiotics.
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