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Microbiological Quality of Hot Meals Served by Airlines

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The microbiological quality of 1,012 hot meals served on aircraft was studied in 1991 to 1994. The material included dishes prepared in 33 countries all over the world. The geometric means of aerobic colony counts and Escherichia coli were significantly lower in breakfasts (P < 0.05) than in main dishes. Pathogenic bacteria were found in 30 samples (3.0%), Bacillus cereus being the most common pathogen. The frequencies of B. cereus and Staphylococcus aureus did not differ between breakfasts and main dishes. Many of the samples exceeded the minimum acceptable microbiological standards recommended by the Association of European Airlines (AEA) for E. coli, S. aureus, B. cereus, Clostridium peifringens, and Salmonella; i.e., 8.2%, 0.6%, 0.7%, 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively. There were considerable differences in aerobic colony counts and E. coli counts between countries where the food was prepared.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: August 1, 1998

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