LSG SkyChefs has fired its general manager and head chef at Denver International Airport and has torn out the pipes and drain that were contaminated with the stubborn Listeria bacteria.

The world’s largest airline food service, owned by the German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG, is working against the clock to be ready for the next time the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) inspects its Denver facilities.

chef-kitchen.jpgThat’s because LSG lost “approved status” for its flight kitchens at DIA after FDA found live and dead roaches and tests came back positive for Listeria bacteria.

On Dec. 23rd, Food Safety News became first in the world to report on LSG’s problems at Denver.  FDA reduced LSG to “provisional status” in a formal Warning Letter issued on Dec. 10th.

The airline catering company must pass the re-inspection or it could fall to “Use Prohibited” or “Not Approved” status.  That would prevent LSG from selling food to airlines.  It must regain its “Approved” status.

In addition to the firings, LSG decided that chemical treatments to the kitchen floor drains were not effective in eradicating Listeria.  It opted for structural changes, removing old pipes and drains and installing new ones.

FDA’s Denver District Director H. Thomas Warwick, Jr. told news services that his inspectors will be immediately re-inspecting the facility, and in fact, that may have begun on Monday.

Beth Van Duyne, spokesman for the international company, has insisted from the beginning the company was taking FDA’s findings very seriously and would be doing whatever it takes to pass the next inspection.

The last inspections were in September and October when FDA officials visited the airline kitchen, taking samples from various locations inside the processing facility.

“Our FDA laboratory analyses of these environmental samples (FDA Sample #531908) revealed that three swab sub samples collected from floor locations in the hot kitchen area were found positive for Listeria monocytogenes,” Warwick wrote.

Van Duyne said all the positive samples came from drains, and that no positive results were returned from any food or food preparation surfaces.

LSG’s flight kitchen is located in a building that was constructed at about the same time the airport was built.   It is located on East 75th Avenue.

It was there that FDA investigators “observed numerous live roaches, dead roaches, and other insects, as well as food, and other debris, in various locations…”

Roaches were found in places like the cart wash area, and the silverware area as well as in the hot kitchen and dish washing machine area.  There were gaps under the garbage room, receiving dock, and outbound dock doors, which are openings for pests.

FDA also did not like the way LSG was stacking wet containers, as it promotes bacteria growth.

Van Duyne is confident LSG will pass the next inspection.   There have been no illnesses associated with the facility.

DIA is America’s fourth largest airport.