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Air France May Have Served Sandwiches Contaminated with the Deadly Listeria Bacteria

Air France May Have Served Sandwiches Contaminated with the Deadly Listeria Bacteria

Air France May Have Served Sandwiches Contaminated with the Deadly Listeria Bacteria

Air France has issued an urgent warning after the potentially deadly Listeria bacteria was discovered in a sandwich served onboard flights to several international destinations.  Routine quality checks revealed that tuna sandwiches which were available from a self-serve buffet in Air France’s Economy and Premium Economy cabin’s between 21st and 24th May might have been contaminated with listeria – a bacteria that can cause a rare infection known as Listeriosis.

Although Listeriosis doesn’t normally cause serious problems, the infection can be potentially very dangerous for certain groups of people such as pregnant women and those with a weak immune system.  Listeria can contaminate a wide range of foods and is most commonly found in chilled ready-to-eat foods (like pre-prepared sandwiches), especially if they are served after their sell-by date.

Air France says it has already informed potentially affected passengers via email and believes the potentially Listeria-contaminated foods were served on just nine flights departing from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.

Tuesday 21st May 2019
AF662 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Dubai (DXB)
AF642  Ory (ORY) to La Réunion (RUN)
AF584 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Accra (ACC)

Wednesday 22nd of May, 2019
AF878 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Ndjamena (NDJ)
AF520 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Bamako (BKO)
AF642 Ory (ORY) to La Réunion (RUN)

Thursday 23rd of May, 2019
AF662 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Dubai (DXB)

Friday 24th of May, 2019
AF662 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Dubai (DXB)
AF818 Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Abuja (ABV)

So far, Air France says it has not received any reports of customers who may have been infected with Listeriosis.  The condition normally nausea and sickness, diarrhoea, aches and pains, and a high temperature (above 38°C/100°F).  Most people will quickly recover after a couple of days but certain groups should contact a medical professional immediately if they suspect they have Listeriosis.

Photo Credit: Air France
Photo Credit: Air France

Air France is particularly concerned about pregnant women, older people and those suffering from an immunodeficiency catching the infection.  In some cases, Listeriosis may have an incubation period of up to eight weeks.

Is other food onboard safe?

It will be interesting to know how these sandwiches were served as this might give vital clues as to how they became contaminated in the first place.  Air France says the sandwiches were available from a self-serve buffet so there’s a potential risk that they were left out in a un-refrigerated area for too long.

The fact that so many flights were potentially affected, though, suggests that the contamination happened at the catering facility.  it’s not unknown for caterers to accidentally serve foods way past their sell-by-dates.  There’s also the risk that foodstuffs simply weren’t refrigerated at all points of their journey to the aircraft.

Once onboard, fresh food is generally well refrigerated right up until the point it’s about to be served.  Considering the vast amounts of food served by airlines around the world every day, the risk of contamination, infection or illness is minuscule.  This case certainly seems like an isolated incident and while airline food is never particulary tasty, at least it’s generally not very dangerous.

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