June 20, 2024

Chain reactions – safety first

Fabio Gamba, managing director of Airline Caterers’ Association (ACA) & director general of Airport Services Association (ASA), puts food safety top of the agenda

Ensuring food safety in the inflight catering industry from’˜farm to fork’€™ is no easy feat. The process contains hurdles that have to be overcome to ensure high-quality and fresh products are grown, processed and delivered to passengers as efficiently as possible.

The challenges can be best addressed when all components of the value chain are harmonised, and take into consideration agriculture, out-sourced production, suppliers, in-house production, delivery to aircraft, service to passengers, return catering, off-loading and disposal of waste.

This value chain has to be well coordinated and this also requires training processes that are aligned for airline catering crews across the sector. Done well, the results can include a reduction in waste and lower risks of life-threatening food-related emergencies.

Knowledge is power
The’˜farm to fork’€™ process is extremely delicate and requires accurate knowledge to be efficient. It is crucial that key players such as food manufacturers, farmers, distribution centres and retailers monitor and control food handling within their processes for guaranteed safety and assured quality.

ACA is working on this following its first’˜Farm to Fork Airline Catering Workshop’€™ in February. Our members are conscious that standardised contracts governing responsibilities around nominated products could help establish best practice, and similarly we need a shared, defined approach for special meals and allergies. We agreed to set up dedicated task forces to tackle both these topics as well as three others: to develop best practice manuals for food served onboard; provide recommendations on improving our environmental footprint; and established industry guidelines on overnight cooling/return catering. These task forces are being established now and will aim to establish full frameworks and timelines by the end of the year. The workshop helped established clear priorities and we invite all interested parties to now get involved in the real work – finding the solutions.