With the introduction of budget airlines and greater competitiveness amongst all airlines, air travel has now become an extremely popular form of travel, presenting its own unique set of risks from food poisoning. Foodborne illness associated with air travel is quite uncommon in the modern era. However, when it occurs, it may have serious implications for passengers and when crew are affected, has the potential to threaten safety. Quality, safe, in-flight catering relies on high standards of food preparation and storage; this applies at the airport kitchens (or at subcontractors' facilities), on the aircraft and in the transportation vehicles which carry the food from the ground source to the aircraft. This is especially challenging in certain countries. Several foodborne outbreaks have been recorded by the airline industry as a result of a number of different failures of these systems. These have provided an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and current practice has, therefore, reached such a standard so as to minimise risk of failures of this kind. This review examines: (i) the origin of food safety in modern commercial aviation; (ii) outbreaks which have occurred previously relating to aviation travel; (iii) the microbiological quality of food and water on board commercial aircraft; and (iv) how Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points may be employed to maintain food safety in aviation travel.
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