FSSAI cracks down on contaminated food on flights; directs airlines to ensure proper labelling

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked airlines to ensure that prepared food served on flights is properly labelled and displays key information, including “use by date and time” and the caterer’s name, among others. It has also said that flight kitchen operators and in-flight food service providers must comply with the Food Safety and Standard Act and its regulations, including labelling norms.

It has also directed airlines to ensure they comply with the licensing norms, especially when selling pre-packaged food products and private-label products.

This advisory follows reports from some passengers of contaminated food being served on airlines. This also prompted the FSSAI to pull up some airlines and caterers.

“The flight operators shall ensure that the passengers are well aware of the FSSAI license number of both the caterer/manufacturer as well as the flight operators, which are airlines. Basic details in case of prepared foods such as the name of the Caterer, FSSAI License number, Date and Time of packaging, and Use by Date and Time, shall be ensured on the packaging along with the other details as applicable as per FSS (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020,”the Authority said in its recent advisory. . Also, they must inform passengers that they can lodge food-related grievances on the FSSAI’s Food Safety Connect App.

Ït added that the flight kitchen operators and In-Flight food service providers “shall comply” with the FSS Act, 2006 and the Rules and Regulations, including the FSS (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020

The Authority also stated that in its surveillance drive to inspect the supply chain of food served to in-flight passengers, it observed discrepancies in the description of “Kind of Business”in the FSSAI licenses.

“It has been observed that food is being prepared by Flight Kitchen Operators , which are caterers located in and around the vicinity of the airports , and then transferred through specialized vehicles like insulated refrigerated vans/wagons to the flights. In the flights, food is then served to passengers of that particular flight through the staff of the Airlines, which is inflight food services,” it added.

Keeping this in mind, the FSSAI has asked that flight kitchen operators describe themselves as “food services (caterer)“ in terms of “Kind of Business” in their FSSAI license applications. It added that firms transporting food to the flights from flight kitchens must also obtain a separate FSSAI license.

The Food Safety Authority also clarified that airlines can obtain one FSSAI license and are not required to take separate licenses in different states. It, however, added that they must describe themselves as “food services (caterer” in terms of the “kind of business” description. It added that airlines that sell pre-packaged food should also indicate themselves as “retailer” in the license”. “ In case Airlines get their pre-packaged food products manufactured or imported under their brand name, they shall obtain an appropriate manufacturing License or Importer License,” FSSAI added.

It also noted that airlines also need to obtain a separate FSSAI license in case they are involved in storing food, among others things.  

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