LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. government inspection of food service facilities at Los Angeles International Airport found dirty employee bathrooms and food preparation issues, according to documents made public on Wednesday by a union representing airline food workers.
The report from a Food and Drug Administration inspection conducted in January was released by Unite Here as part of a campaign by the union seeking higher wages and better working conditions for food service workers at one of the world’s busiest airports.
Unite Here also said that employees of Flying Food Group, which prepares meals for airline flights out of LAX, had been ordered to change dates on food and had seen rodents and insects in the kitchen.
“Flying Food’s employees report practices that may pose potential health risks to themselves and the flying public alike,” Unite Here said in a news release.
“Based on worker testimony and health inspection reports filed by the (FDA), Flying Food’s sanitation record raises concerns for an airline caterer serving high-end airlines at a world-class airport,” the union said.
A spokeswoman for Unite Here said the union obtained the FDA inspection reports through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“This 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,” Flying Food said in a written statement. “Ensuring the quality and safety of our food is of the utmost importance to us.”
Flying Food said its LAX facility scored 96 out of 100 on food safety in a surprise two-day inspection in May conducted by a third-party expert hired by several of its airline customers.
A spokesman for Los Angeles World Airports, which owns and operates LAX along with two other regional airports, declined to comment on the Unite Here news release.
According to the FDA report, which followed an unannounced visit in January, an inspector found dirty employee restrooms and issues regarding temperature of prepared foods and machines used to sanitize food service ware.
The FDA report also cited clutter in a storage area that the inspector said could allow pests to breed unnoticed.
Unite Here said employees interviewed by the union also complained of poorly working dishwashers and drains.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Beech