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Now, get audited, certified veg meals from IRCTC kitchens

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New Delhi, Nov 15: The IRCTC on Monday tied up with the Sattvik Council of India to get certified in the process of cooking, transportation and storage of vegetarian food specially on board trains to religious sites with the Railways' catering arm inviting a third party audit of its base kitchens where such food is cooked to ensure a vegetarian environment.

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Officials said that the move was to ensure pure vegetarian food is not only served to those passengers who want it, but also to ensure that the process of preparing the meals is "sattvik".

"Sattvik certification is simply a process certification of vegetarian meal preparation, as per laid down standards indicated by SCI under third party audit of Bureau Veritas. There were passengers who demanded vegetarian meals prepared in a vegetarian environment which includes area, equipment etc. It is expected to help passengers gain confidence in the vegetarian meals for its preparation and service," said IRCTC spokesperson Anand Jha. "This essentially does not mean that there is any restriction in preparation and service of non-veg meal. This certification is only a step ahead towards certification of the existing standards where vegetarian food is prepared and served," Jha added.

A press statement issued by the SCI said the NGO launched the sattvik certification scheme and the world's first and one of its kind Passenger-Locomotive Continuous Audit Module (PL-CAM) with the Railways' catering arm at the IRCTC executive lounge at the New Delhi Railway Station.

It also said that starting with the Vande Bharat Express which runs from Delhi to Katra and eventually 18 others, the certification is mainly targeted for the trains travelling to religious destinations.

"The certification ensures a truly vegetarian, and by extension, a vegan experience by not just ensuring the food is pure vegetarian, but by also making sure that the utensils and any utility that enters the kitchen has been washed with products that have been certified vegetarian," it said.

"Often, 'veg' food is not truly vegetarian due to multiple factors, so to ensure the purity of the food, there will be no non-veg prepared alongside in the kitchen, which means there will be no mix-ups," it added.

Furthermore, in order to ensure that vegetarians are comfortable and to promote their cause, the IRCTC and the SCI have jointly developed a handbook (operations manual) on all the vegetarian destinations and kitchens in association with its Global Audit Partner - Bureau Veritas.

The sattvik certification is not just limited to trains and base kitchens, but also to IRCTC executive lounges, budget hotels, food plazas, travel and tour packages, Rail Neer plants and so on in order to ensure ''vegetarian friendly travel''.

''Vegetarians/vegans increasingly represent an influential consumer segment in tourism and is the fastest growing in the global travel industry. Vegetarian food and environment is what they look for while travelling. Therefore, it is essential to develop certified vegetarian food in restaurants," said Abhishek Biswas, Founder of SCI.

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