|BlueSky Business Aviation News|
We anticipate and plan for summer holidays all year long. We invest a great deal of time, money, energy, and planning to have the perfect time away from work; time to unwind, regroup, refresh, and rejuvenate our body, mind, and soul. The last thing you want to encounter while on holiday are digestive issues that cause you to spend your vacation time in or near a toilet.
I have some helpful, common sense ideas for you, your family, your passengers and flight crew to prevent the gastrointestinal disaster from occurring.
I referred to the Center for Disease Controlís (CDC) website guidelines for travelers, The Food Travelerís Handbook, and the basic food safety guidelines set forth in the World Health Organizationís websites. The information is accurate, and current. It is easy to access and free to use. The CDC keeps a listing of all food borne outbreaks (current and past including location, number infected and source of outbreak), tainted food supplies, recalls and areas where water quality is either proven unsafe or where caution is suggested. The CDC also monitors and reports all diseases such as typhoid, and hepatitis. You need not be afraid to experiment and enjoy the flavors of the globe; you must teach your eyes to look at things a bit differently to assess the risks in your current environment. The CDC further suggests that you exercise a reasonable amount of vigilance in making food choices as you travel.
As noted in all food safety training programs, those at most risk for foodborne illness are the pregnant, children under six years of age, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. The traveling regimen our flight crews and passengers follow is rough even for the healthiest travelers. Flight crews, schedulers, and others involved in the flow of food must address these same issues on a daily basis . . . always on their highest guard.
But now itís vacation time, your guard is down. It's easy to neglect proper nutrition; eating irregular meals and sleeping irregular schedules, enjoying excess cocktails, or existing for days on the same poor foods can cause travelerís tummy and compromise the healthiest immune system. It is important to try to maintain a well-balanced diet while on holiday, just as you struggle to do while traveling for work. Be sure to get your protein. If not meat, look for other proteins; sports bars, protein bars, eggs, nuts, lentils and tofu. AND STAY HYDRATED! Drink lots of (safe) water. Fun in the sun will quickly dehydrate you.
Assess the risks
While there is no guaranteed way to avoid getting sick from food, either at home or traveling, there are foods you should look at carefully before eating. You must assess the risk, and make the final decision based on the information you have at hand. With training, you can make informed decisions. The foods, their cooking, cleaning, and sanitizing processes all play a role in your decision. You will learn these processes and their importance when you take a food safety class. I would like to suggest that you train your eyes on new way to look at the environment around you for safety and for security.
Number ONE: Start by washing your hands before you eat. If the water is questionable, use bottled water and hand sanitizer several times to loosen the dirt on your hands and wipe with a disposable towel. Sanitizers will not remove dirt from hands.
Avoid anything that includes water or fresh herbs as ingredients such as salsa, chutney, and other sauces unless they are prepared safely. Condiments such as mayonnaise, ketchup and salad dressings are safest in sealed packages. According to the CDC, you can drink soda, but only if it comes in a sealed can or bottle; soda from a fountain is an absolute no-no.
As a catering source with our own lids to put liquids in bottles and the new soda stream tabletop dispensers available to anyone, I would caution against bottles and go just for cans. My caution comes from thinking someone may make their own sodas with unfiltered water and add a fresh top to a used bottle.
Coffee and tea are generally harmless, but it's best to take your hot drinks black, without potentially contaminated or unpasteurized milk. Cream from sealed containers, if pasteurized, is usually safe. This brings me to the next suggestion:
Dairy and Vegetables
Avoid raw or unpasteurized dairy products and fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. Raw, unpasteurized dairy, including cheese and yogurt can transport dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli, and listeria, and is a major cause of food-borne illness. Many countries have different pasteurization processes and different standards. Freshly squeezed juices may contain fruits and vegetables that were washed with contaminated water.
With the current trends to have a soft cooked egg on top of a salad this next suggestion is in the forefront of warnings. In their tips for travelersí health, the CDC, World Health Organization and most government food safety agencies warn against eating raw or partially cooked eggs. This includes sauces containing eggs such as hollandaise and freshly prepared mayonnaise.
There should be a big warning sign over seafood in menus. Since I love seafood of all types I would probably be one of those to eat it. Because fish accumulate contaminants from a wide variety of sources, seafood dishes are notorious for causing intestinal problems.
Cold meat platters, deli meat style sandwiches, cheeses, buffet foods and unsealed mayonnaise are often covered with widespread growing bacteria. The educated choice is yours. Assess your risk. On a good note, nuts and other shelled foods are usually a good choice.
Sources disagree about consumption of street foods. Some say street food is generally safer to eat than restaurant food, because you can see the food being made in front of you. But I havenít seen the flow of food, the preparation areas, the storage areas, and their overall concern for the food. I just see the cart. Assess the situation. Is the cart busy, going through a lot of food, serving the food either very hot or very cold. If the cart is dirty or damaged, then you might safely assume that their preparation and storage areas are as well. The same goes for a restaurant. Eat your meals during a traditional meal time to get fresh food that hasnít been sitting around for hours waiting for a patron. Check the outside of the restaurant, look at the condition of the interior; dirty or clean, in good repair or not, the bathrooms clean or dirty? All of these give your eyes a chance to assess the risk and make the best decision for that time and place with the information you have at hand.
It all boils down to you making an informed decision. I know there are places that I visually scan and decide against eating food in. I may take a risk if I am very hungry or thirsty that in another case I might not. Educate yourself, educate your eyes to see telltale signs of potential problems which might lead to travelerís tummy or other dreaded infections or disease. The only thing worse than getting sick when you travel would be not exposing yourself to the fantastic foods of the world, so while exercising caution, make sure not to get too unreasonable.
Travel safe and be well.
Let me introduce myself . . .
My name is Paula Kraft and I am founder and President of Tastefully Yours Catering, an aviation specific caterer, located in Atlanta, Georgia for over 35 years.
Currently I am an active member of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee Advisory Board and the NBAA International Flight Attendant Committee, Women in Corporate Aviation, Women in Aviation International, National Association of Catering Executives, International Flight Catering Association, the International Food Service Association and the International Catererís Association.
I have coordinated training programs and clinics for NBAA and EBAA conference attendees for over 10 years, created mentoring programs for caterers and flight attendants to broaden their aviation culinary skills, and to assist them in adapting to the unique challenges and constraints found in catering for general aviation. I recognize the need for training and have worked closely with flight departments, flight crews, schedulers and customer service reps at the FBOs to ensure that catering specific training provides information and skills necessary to reduce risk while assisting them in their job duties that include safe food handling, catering security, accurate transmission of food orders, and safe food production, packaging and delivery.
I fell into aviation catering quite by accident. I was the in-house caterer and bakery supplier for Macyís department stores in Atlanta when catering was ordered for a Macyís customer which was soon to change my life. After the client enjoyed the catering provided, I was summoned to the clientís corporate office to provide several of the items delivered through Macyís to the executive dining room. Within a week, I was providing food for the flight department and my first order was for the President of a foreign country (as I was too be told soon after). So, here I am, some 35 years later, still loving every minute of every day in aviation catering.