Air China denies serving expired food after dozens fell sick on flight
Air China said investigation revealed that wrong packaging was to blame for the "misunderstanding"
Air China, a leading carrier in the mainland, has denied accusations that it fed passengers on a domestic flight out-of-date beef pancakes, making at least a dozen sick.
In a telephone interview with SCMP.com on Tuesday, an Air China spokeswoman said an investigation had revealed that incorrect packaging was to blame for the “misunderstanding.” She said Air China routinely discards leftover and out-of-date food and would never recycle them for reuse.
The news has made national headlines in China after a passenger on a Sunday flight from Xinjiang’s Hami city to Beijing shared her unfortunate dining experience on popular social media site Weibo.
A photo of the packaged food she posted shows an expiration date of October 2, four days before her flight date.
“Look twice when you eat any food from Air China in the future,” she warned in her post that later caught the attention of reporters.
The passenger, identified by her surname as Wang, later told Chinese media that one toddler vomited soon after eating the pancake and at least 20 adults suffered sickness and had to use the toilet.
Wang said she was upset that even after passengers pointed out the problem to flight attendants, they refused to warn everyone of the "expired" food.
One flight attendant flatly denied there was a problem, and told passengers the food provider had used wrong labels. But Wang, unconvinced, demanded an apology and filed a complaint immediately after she landed.
In an official statement issued by the carrier early Tuesday morning, Air China said an internal investigation showed that workers had mistakenly packaged the pancakes with bags used for food offered in domestic flights of shorter distances. Food offered on the Xinjiang-Beijing route is different and lasts much longer, it said.