By Peter Loftus
The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to the airline on April 13, saying: “We believe a recurrence is likely without adequate preventive measures in place.” The letter was posted on the FDA website this week.
The FDA conducted an inspection of a Delta aircraft between late January and early February to determine whether it complied with requirements that food-preparation areas remain clean and free from flies, rodents and other vermin.
According to the FDA letter, the agency found numerous “rodent excreta pellets” near areas of the plane where food is prepared by flight personnel. Some of the pellets were located above door panels in the forward galley and above passenger seats.
Another finding cited in the letter: “Rodent excreta pellets (too numerous to count) in three areas in ceiling panels located in the middle cross over galley G2, which is directly over places where food and drinks are stored in the aircraft.” The FDA also found “mammalian urine” on ceiling panels of the plane.
Delta told the agency in late January it was taking actions to exterminate the rodent infestation on the aircraft, according to the FDA letter. But the agency said the Delta response didn’t include actions the airline “is taking to prevent future rodent infestations.”
The agency instructed Delta to take prompt actions to correct the violations. It must respond within 15 working days of receiving the FDA letter, the agency said.
Rodent waste can transmit to humans a virus that causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a rare but potentially deadly disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a written statement, Delta called the rodent-waste discovery “an isolated incident and we cooperated with the FDA immediately to resolve it earlier this year.” The company said it has an established routine servicing program to inspect its aircraft. Delta said the health and safety of customers and employees are its top priority.