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Railways to put packaged food under the microscope to gauge its quality

However in order to ensure compliance of FSSAI standards we intend to tie-up with NABL accredited labs for a period of 2 years for food testing, and test reporting,” said an official from IRCTC.

All through the lockdown, the Indian Railways served ready to eat and packaged food. Now the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), after nearly 1.5 years of serving RTE food, have woken up as they will put these packaged foods under the microscope for a lab test to gauge its quality.

The cooked food and its raw materials too shall undergo lab tests while food safety supervisors (FSS) will also be appointed who shall travel inside long distance trains and 50 Base Kitchen units across the country. All these will now likely to begin in the next 2-3 months. RTE meals that include rajma rice, chole, rice, biryani, poha, upma etc. apart from packaged items like biscuits, cakes and chips are being served to passengers.

“We have shortlisted the contractors who have been serving these RTE and PAD items to passengers in order to maintain hygiene and quality standards. However in order to ensure compliance of FSSAI standards we intend to tie-up with NABL accredited labs for a period of 2 years for food testing, and test reporting,” said an official from IRCTC.

In two years, 480 food samples will be collected and tested. All through the lockdown there were complaints from passengers about the quality of RTE food and the limited variety that Railways provided. “We want to improve the quality of RTE food. We are also looking at increasing the options of food items like pulav, dum aloo, paneer etc. we expect the new system to come in place by April or so,” said another IRCTC official.

The Indian Railways prepare cooked food at their Base Kitchens from where it is sold to passengers travelling inside long distance trains. There are 50 Base Kitchens across the country where cooked food is prepared and sent in trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Tejas, Duronto, Gatimaan and other Mail Express Trains.

“We have already reintroduced cooked food in some long distance trains. In order to strengthen the process of quality checks, so that it is safe to serve. Food will be tested at the time of preparation. If there are complaints made by the passengers about the quality of food then too, it will be separated and sent to the lab for testing. We intend to carry out a 360 degree audit,” explained an IRCTC official.

At the base kitchens, this system will begin in a phased manner across all the cities and inside long distance trains.

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