Dear Airlines: Please Carry an Ingredients List

Why Don't More Airlines Have Ingredients Lists for All the Food They Serve? While U.S. airlines are actually quite good about this usually, quite a few international carriers do not carry an ingredients list for the food they serve, particularly for business and first class meals. These are usually plated meals, and as such don't have to be labeled the same way that meals sold in supermarkets must be.

My husband ran into this recently with his Finnair Business Class Flight to HEL (see Crying Baby in Business Class Night Flight), where he was served some cheese with an accompanying fig chutney. Since he has a moderate mango allergy, he asked the flight attendant if there was any mango in the dish. She answered that no, it was just a fig chutney, and the only ingredient was figs (clearly untrue, since my husband could see chunks of other things that weren't figs, in the chutney). But she had no ingredients list to show him, so that he could check what was in it. Fortunately he just decided to not eat the chutney, but it would have been good to have access to an ingredients list.

I also came across this FlyerTalk post from a passenger who, with his girlfriend, had been rebooked at the last minute, due to flight delays, from AA to a Cathay Pacific Business Class flight from Hong to LAX. They weren't able to buy a meal before boarding, and his girlfriend was severely allergic to peanuts. To their surprise and disappointment: “CX flight attendants told us that they do not have an ingredient list for any of their food offerings, and that they cannot guarantee that any of the meals is free of peanuts…All CX needed to be able to do is provide us with an ingredient list so we could have made a conscious choice. Nothing happened in the end, but my girlfriend endured quite a lot of distress in the process.”

Similarly, we've been on Qatar and Emirates flights where the crew doesn't have an ingredients list, so it's impossible to be absolutely sure of potential allergens in a given dish.

Of international airlines, we've found JAL to be especially sensitive to allergy sufferers. JAL offers Minimal Allergen 7 and Minimal Allergen 27 meals, both for Economy/Premium Economy and Business/First Class. You need to request these meals at least 72 hours in advance.

Of domestic U.S. airlines, JetBlue Mint has been the best experience, with a detailed ingredients list of each dish available when requested from the flight crew.

If you or a family member suffers from a food allergen, which airline(s) have you been able to get a complete ingredients list from?

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