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In order to standardise the quality of food served on long-distance trains, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will soon provide ready-to-eat meals to passengers. The ready-to-eat meal, manufactured by established companies, can be served to passengers after adding boiling water to it. Officials said this would offer consistency and improve the quality of food served on trains.
The ready-to-eat food packets will minimise the manual interference and catering staff will only require to add boiling water to food items before serving them. Passengers are already being served vegetable biriyani, rajma chawal, hakka noodles, pulav, idli sambar and dal from such packets on an experimental basis. “We wish to promote the ready-to-eat food menu across trains. It will replace the existing menu and also add variety,” a senior IRCTC official said.
Last week, 24 passengers had taken ill after being served soup and breakfast on the Karmali-CSMT Tejas Express. While the preliminary inquiry report said the food served on the train was of satisfactory quality, it recommended a check on the quality of omelette and soup served for breakfast. “We are awaiting the food test reports to ascertain if there was any deficiency in the food served on the Tejas Express… The ready-to-eat food packets can be served within eight minutes after mixing with hot water. We had tested the same in the breakfast menu of the Tejas Express in May and received positive feedback from passengers,” the official added.
Stressing that food packets will be bought from established brands, the official said: “Such food products are manufactured in a mechanised process with emphasis on quality standard. They are cheap, easy to use and store.”
“The food served in the Vistadome coach attached with the Jan Shatabdi includes a ready-to-eat menu. We are awaiting approval from the corporate office in Delhi to implement the process in any of the premium trains. The food menu on board the Shatabdis or Rajdhanis could have ready-to-eat food menu,” the official added.
Food packets could be stored in the base kitchens of railways, official said. Compete mechanised base kitchens at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Mumbai Central are already on the planning board.