For the second time in less than a year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to the world’s largest airline food service about problems at one of its flight kitchens.

LSG Sky Chefs Inc., owned by the German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG, was warned Nov. 9 about its airline catering facility near the airport in Austin, TX, and a kitchen with capacity to turn out 14,000 meals per day for 60 flights.

FDA said crab cakes and tuna on wheat sandwiches LSG Sky Chefs is preparing in Austin for such clients as Aero Mexico, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Federal Express, Mesa Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, and United Parcel Service are adulterated.

The Austin Sky Chefs unit has serious violations of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations, which govern the processing of fish or fishery products.

Last December, LSG Sky Chefs at the Denver International Airport lost its “approved” status after its flight kitchen was found contaminated with Listeria.

FDA inspected LSG in Austin last June 28-29, and came to have concerns about the flight kitchen’s “fully cooked non-shelf stable seafood items, namely crab cakes” that did not list all necessary critical control points.

Points not covered were receiving and storage of both canned pasteurized crabmeat, and finished crab to control pathogen growth and toxin formation.

FDA said it received a July 1 action plan from Sky Chefs that re-evaluates the plan for crab cakes, but it did not include the new HACCP plan.

The agency’s warning letter said it found Sky Chefs’ critical limit for internal temperatures was not sufficient for crab cakes “to control hazard of pathogen survival.”   

FDA’s label review found allergens were present in the airline sandwiches that were not disclosed.

Sky Chefs has 15 working days to correct the violations or FDA could take further action, including enjoining it from operating the Austin unit.   Flight kitchens that fall to “Use Prohibited” or “Not Approved” status are not able to provide food to airlines.

Worldwide LSG Sky Chefs provides over 405 million meals annually to over 300 airlines.