Food Safety Awareness & How To Order Catering . . Part VI

Water / Ice Bins / Galley Counters & Compartments on Aircraft

Susan C. Friedenberg, President & CEO of Philadelphia-based Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Services, continues her series of articles on food safety and discusses the importance of ice storage and sterilization.

Ice and ice bins on corporate aircraft can be very dangerous. Ice is ingested and is considered food.

It is the recommendation of Corporate Flight Attendant Training that you ask your mechanic to take the ice bins off of the aircraft and sterilize them after any trip. In particular, after international trips. Water and ice are considered potentially hazardous foods and are classified as unsafe food. If the ice bins are non removable, even after they are completely drained, there will always be moisture or water residue throughout the bins. Bacteria grows in cold environments as well as warm environments. Most aircraft have two ice bins. One is for beverages that you will put ice into a passenger's glass from, and one is for cold beverage storage.

The beverage storage ice bin almost always has toxins and bacteria build-up from wine bottles that have labels that are glued on, water bottles that have labels with glue and any beverages that have exploded from possible cold weather (under pressure) that were not off-loaded or bottles of beer/wine perhaps that have possibly broken. In that case you would have glass fragments from chipped bottles or broken bottles. We teach flight attendants to always insert anything that has a label on it into a gallon (4 Litre) zip lock bag. This practice also protects the wine bottle label from peeling in the ice environment for aesthetic purposes when being poured in the cabin in front of your guests. A good quality bottle of wine with a peeled label would now look like an inexpensive and old bottle of wine.

Cleaning the ice bins is crucial for the food safety implementation of your passengers. Using QUATS which is Quaternary Ammonium Chloride compound is only a part of the solution. Sanitation of environmental / food surfaces are the last line of defense against the movement of microbes into food, and in this case water bacteria build up. QUATS has varied germicidal activity and is generally used in low-level sanitation. The main advantage of this for our purposes on aircraft is that it is odorless, non staining, non corrosive to the metal ice drawers and is relatively non toxic at use dilution concentrations.

It can be purchased in a gallon (4 Litre) container and then diluted into a small spray bottle and kept on the aircraft in the galley area. You can keep the gallon bottle in your commissary or stock room area / locker. As a sanitizer, it exhibits a wide latitude in germicidal activity when used in hard water and is effective over a wide PH range. QUATS leaves a non volatile residue on any surface to which it is applied, rendering the surfaces bacteria free for a given time. It is also excellent for wiping down the galley counters and food storage compartments as well. Another solution if there is no QUATS available is to use Vodka. :) It would be a good idea to let it sit for about 10 minutes and then re wipe the area down with bottled water.

Sanitation of a food surface is the last line of defense against the movement of microbes and growth of bacteria into food. Sanitizing the ice bins after each trip as well as the areas mentioned above after each meal service is paramount in the food safety equation for our passengers. It is all about best practices that are implemented by an educated and savvy food safety conscious flight attendant or mechanic if there is not a trained third crew member.

In the next article, I will discuss safe ice delivery from FBO's and Handlers when you are traveling out of your country as well as safe ice storage implementation when traveling to remote areas of the globe.

10 January 2010

Susan is available to present this topic and other Business Aviation Flight Attendant related safety topics at conferences, annual meetings and organizational meetings.

Susan C. Friedenberg - President & CEO
Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Services
Telephone # 215.625.4811

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