INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued stern directives to airlines regarding the quality of in-flight food, following a series of complaints about food safety lapses.

This move comes after multiple incidents where passengers found foreign objects and contaminants in their meals.

On June 16, the FSSAI met with airline officials to address the ongoing issues. A subsequent letter from the CEO of FSSAI, accessed by Moneycontrol, outlined strict compliance requirements under sub-regulation 5(10)(f) and 8(4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020.

These regulations mandate greater transparency by providing passengers with detailed information about the food served, including its nature, origin, and manufacturing details.

The FSSAI emphasized the importance of menu labeling to inform passengers about the contents of their meals, enabling them to make informed choices. The regulator warned airlines of potential strict actions and announced plans for surprise checks to ensure compliance.

Handling consumer grievances and food safety training

During the meeting, the FSSAI highlighted the necessity of prompt and effective handling of consumer grievances.

Airline caterers were urged to establish robust mechanisms for the swift resolution of complaints, including corrective and preventive actions to minimize food safety incidents. The vital role of the airline industry in ensuring passenger safety and satisfaction was highlighted.

The letter also stressed the importance of specialized training programs for catering staff. These programs are aimed at ensuring comprehensive understanding and implementation of food safety and hygiene practices.

Recent incidents prompting action

The FSSAI’s latest directives follow several alarming incidents. Two months ago, the authority had already written to airlines after complaints emerged of worms being found in food served on a domestic flight.

More recently, a passenger reported finding worms in a sandwich, leading to a showcause notice being issued to the airline involved.

In another incident, Air India faced scrutiny after a passenger found a metal blade in a meal. Air India’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, Rajesh Dogra, confirmed the incident, attributing the foreign object to a vegetable processing machine used by their catering partner.

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