INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has called a meeting with airlines, flight caterers and airport operators, seeking to make it mandatory for airlines to serve meal with nutritional information as well as healthier options, ET Retail reports.

Airlines may need to include complete information on nutritional aspects like calories, list of contents, a best by time (like the date on packaged food) and providing healthy options.

The Indian food regulator has decided to examine in-flight catering, including transportation of meals, storage on board and then how the same is served following concerns of deteriorating in-flight meal quality in most airlines.

“The public, at several fora, has expressed concerns about airline food, its quality and safety.

Earlier we called meetings with airlines, airport operators, in-flight caterers separately who would say this is the other’s area.

So we met everyone together to cover all aspects of safety, hygiene of in-flight food and are going to come out with standard operating procedure (SOPs) for each step involved to ensure what is served to passengers is perfectly safe to consume.

The process has begun and the aviation industry has been very welcoming towards this initiative,” said Agarwal, a 1985 batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre.

Hospitality chains which operates flight kitchens may be required to provide full meal details to flyers on how the meals are cooked and packaged in line with safety procedures.

Also, full service airlines, budget carriers and low cost carriers who sell packaged items like sandwiches and snacks will be required to include labels with the best before date and contents for meal trays.

FSSAI is planning to formulate a comprehensive guidance document for in-flight catering based on own regulations and World Food Safety Guidelines for airline catering to address regulatory gaps for in-flight catering.

This will cover issues like how food is to be packaged and till when it has to be served.

“Airlines need to focus on supplying healthier option in menu. While some are already doing so, we are notifying menu labelling for served food in restaurants with chains and fixed menu.

Airlines and railways usually fix menu and will come in this category,” added Agarwal.