Airlines open new routes, ensure meal safety

By Grace Soong, The China Post & CNA

The China Post & CNA–As safety controversies surrounding various poultry and meat products continue to deepen, international airlines are taking action to safeguard their onboard meals and provide passengers with healthy dining options. The most notable of these carriers so far are China Airlines (中華航空, CAL), which is dropping its use of U.S. beef, and Eva Airlines (長榮航空), which is constructing its own laboratory for food monitoring.

Most of the beef provided on CAL flights is from Australian and Taiwanese cattle, with only occasional U.S. beef, according to the airline’s marketing and service department. Although the U.S. beef came with certificates vouching that the beef is ractopamine-free, CAL has decided to stop using U.S. beef altogether to alleviate any remaining anxiety and uncertainty. The CAL office also pledged that all poultry and eggs provided on their flights are safe. Not only are all poultry and eggs provided by internationally and domestically recognized and certified businesses, all food materials are heated to over 75 degrees Celsius during the cooking process, the office said.

Also among the Taiwan’s top air travel providers, Eva Air acted to safeguard its food quality by building a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometer laboratory last October, in addition to the pre-existing food microbiology laboratory.

The new lab was built after the 2011 plasticizer crisis to monitor the toxic additives and other chemical residuals that had escaped general food safety testing. With the state-of-the-art equipment, Eva Air promises to detect toxins in all its dietary products with the acuity of thousands of times past standards. Direct Flights to Japan

Meanwhile, CAL yesterday launched new regular flights between Taiwan and the Japanese cities of Kagoshima and Shizuoka, under an aviation pact signed between Taiwan and Japan last year.

Although CAL has been providing the two destinations with charter flights over the years, the newly scheduled service aims to serve independent travelers with more flexibility. Those planning to visit the two popular tourist cities will now no longer be restricted by limitations imposed by charter flights or road transport problems, the airline announced.

It is under an open-sky agreement, which liberalizes commercial aviation services between the two countries, that Taiwanese carriers can apply to operate scheduled services to 10 Japanese destinations in addition to Tokyo, without restrictions on the number of flights they can offer. CAL is also planning to offer more weekly flights on routes serving Japan, which will bring its Japan service to 119 round-trip flights every week.

The Taoyuan-Toyama route will be launched on April 16, the airline concluded.