“There’s no fucking way I eat on planes,” Ramsay recently told Refinery29. “I worked for airlines for 10 years, so I know where this food’s been and where it goes, and how long it took before it got on board.”
Fact check: Ramsay did indeed work with Singapore Airlines, developing inflight menus. And it does take a relatively long time for airplane food to make it onboard, if you’re comparing it to high-end restaurant fare rather than, say, a previously frozen patty on a burger from McDonald’s.
Most ― but not all ― inflight meals are prepared in catering facilities near the airport, and frozen before they’ve finished cooking. They’re then transported to the tarmac, loaded onto planes and heated in inflight convection ovens before serving. Hot meals may not be prepared more than 72 hours before a flight’s departure, according to guidelines from the International Flight Services Association. That’s about how long it takes for Emirates’ inflight meals to reach passengers, the carrier’s vice president of flight catering told CNN earlier this month.
Food safety is a priority, Fritz Gross, director of culinary excellence at LSG Sky Chefs, told CNN. And statistically, food poisoning from airline food isn’t especially common. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been mishaps in the past, like the time contaminated shrimp sickened a plane full of Aerolineas passengers in 1992 or when inspectors found a whole host of health violations at Los Angeles airport catering facilities in 2015. And don’t even get us started on that memorable “20/20” investigation about health violations at food prep facilities.
If, like Ramsay, it all makes you nervous, just bring your own meal instead.