July 21, 2024

QSAI updates special meals guidelines documentation

The Quality and Safety Alliance of In-flight Services (QSAI) has announced the release of the updated edition of its Special Meals: Codes, Definitions and Interpretation Guidelines. The updated guidelines (version 2.0) will be effective from the start of 2024.

The comprehensive guidelines strengthen onboard catering industry standards so that airlines, rail companies and onboard food suppliers can cater to the diverse dietary needs and preferences of all travellers without confusion.

Though the new guidelines are effective from January 1 2024, a 12-month grace period has been granted for QSAI partners and catering organisations to adhere to the new requirements. All future menu development should be based on the updated documentation, which addresses the growing need for special meals.

QSAI was launched in 2011 and brings together the world’s top airlines and railway carriers in an alliance which has the objective of driving excellence in onboard food service.

In its press release regarding the publication of version 2.0 of the guidelines the QSAI acknowledges, “In recent years, special meal codes and definitions have lagged behind changing international requirements, causing confusion within the industry when creating special meal menus.”

The new industry standards are based on up-to-date scientific, regulatory and industry knowledge. The objective is to harmonise international requirements, to ensure there is no confusion in the onboard catering industry on how to provide passengers with food that meets their needs and expectations.

Faced with industry confusion and calls for improved standards regarding special meal requirements, the QSAI alliance of airlines and railways was charged with administering special meal requirements for the onboard food industry. QSAI’s scientific and regulatory advisor, Medina Quality (MQ), an IATA strategic partner, conducted a global review of current regulatory, dietary and religious requirements as the basis for updating the special meal codes and definitions.

More than 40 onboard caterers and members of the QSAI Airline Alliance were surveyed as part of the process of redefining the special meal codes, definitions and interpretation guidelines, including Air Canada, Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, All Nippon Airways, Eurostar International, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

“Given the growing demand from travellers for special meals, updating these codes and definitions is a crucial step towards enhancing the onboard catering experience for all passengers, regardless of their dietary or religious needs and preferences,” said David Medina, COO of Medina Quality.

“This collaborative effort reflects our commitment to ensuring that travellers receive food that meets the highest standards of quality and safety,” he continued.

Version 2.0 of QSAI’s Special Meals: Codes, Definitions and Interpretation Guidelines is available from the QSAI website.