Shocking Discovery: Air India Passenger Finds Blade in Meal

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Air India Passenger Finds Blade in Meal: In an alarming incident that has sparked significant concerns regarding food safety in aviation, a passenger on an Air India flight from Bengaluru to San Francisco recently discovered a sharp metal blade in their in-flight meal. The discovery, made by journalist Mathures Paul on June 9, 2024, was shared on social media, drawing widespread attention and criticism towards Air India’s catering services.

The Incident about Air India Passenger Finds Blade in Meal

Mathures Paul recounted his harrowing experience in a post on X, where he detailed finding a metal blade in his fig chaat dish served by Air India’s in-flight catering. He wrote, “I realised it was in my food after I chewed it for two or three seconds. As soon as I spat it out, I realised what the object was.” The presence of such a dangerous item in a meal has raised serious questions about the airline’s food safety protocols.

Immediate Response

According to Paul, the stewardess apologized briefly and returned with a bowl of chickpeas as a replacement. This response was perceived as insufficient given the severity of the situation. Paul further highlighted the potential dangers, stating, “It is dangerous to have a blade on any flight. Second, it could have cut through my tongue. Third, what if a child was eating this food?”

Air India’s Offer

In the aftermath, Air India reportedly contacted Paul, offering him a “free business class trip to anywhere in the world” as compensation. Paul rejected the offer, describing it as a “bribe” and expressing his dissatisfaction with the airline’s handling of the incident.

Air India’s Statement and Investigation

Acknowledgement and Investigation

Air India, owned by the Tata Group, acknowledged the incident through a statement issued by Rajesh Dogra, the Chief Customer Experience Officer. Dogra confirmed the presence of a “foreign object” in the meal and identified the source as a vegetable processing machine used by their catering partner. He assured that the airline is working with the catering company to implement stronger safety measures, including more frequent checks of the equipment involved.

Criticism and Broader Issues

This incident is not isolated; Air India has been facing mounting criticism for various in-flight problems. Passengers have voiced concerns on social media about unclean cabins, malfunctioning entertainment systems, and subpar meal quality. Business class passengers, in particular, have highlighted the disparity between the high cost of tickets and the level of service provided.

Health Risks of Ingesting Sharp Objects

Potential Hazards

Dr. Pranav Honnavara Srinivasan, a senior consultant surgical gastroenterologist at Fortis Hospitals Bengaluru, emphasized the severe health risks associated with ingesting sharp objects. Such objects can cause lacerations in the mouth, throat, esophagus, or gastrointestinal tract, leading to bleeding, infections, and potentially life-threatening complications. Plastic objects, although less immediately dangerous, can cause choking, digestive blockages, or release harmful chemicals.

Immediate Symptoms and Actions

Immediate symptoms of ingesting a sharp object include severe pain in the throat or abdomen, difficulty swallowing or breathing, vomiting (especially if blood is present), and stomach cramps or bloating. Dr. Srinivasan advises seeking immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms occur, avoiding inducing vomiting, and refraining from eating or drinking until a healthcare professional is consulted.

Airline Food Safety Protocols

Standard Measures

Airline catering services are expected to adhere to stringent protocols to ensure meal safety. These include multiple inspections and screenings with metal detectors to detect foreign objects, surveillance systems monitoring food preparation, and the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems to identify and control potential hazards.

Training and Audits

Regular training on hygiene and safety standards is conducted, along with annual or biannual protocol reviews and updates. Despite these measures, lapses can occur due to human error, equipment failure, or non-compliance. Dr. Srinivasan notes that an employee might accidentally drop a small object into the food, or a metal detector might fail to detect it if improperly calibrated. Regular audits are intended to catch these issues, but occasional misses can lead to incidents like the one reported.

Regulatory Oversight

Role of Regulatory Bodies

Regulatory bodies such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and International Air Transport Association (IATA) oversee food safety in the airline industry. They conduct regular inspections to ensure compliance with food safety standards. Airlines found in violation of these standards can face fines, service suspensions, mandatory recalls, and legal actions.

Ensuring Compliance

Airlines are required to maintain detailed records of their food safety protocols and undergo periodic audits. These audits help ensure that all safety measures are being followed meticulously. However, incidents like the one involving Air India highlight the need for continuous improvement and stricter enforcement of these regulations to prevent such occurrences.


The discovery of a metal blade in an Air India passenger’s meal is a grave incident that underscores the critical need for stringent food safety measures in the airline industry.

While Air India has acknowledged the issue and promised to enhance safety protocols, the incident has raised broader concerns about the airline’s service quality and reliability.

Passengers’ safety and well-being must be paramount, and airlines must ensure that their food safety standards are uncompromisingly upheld. Regulatory bodies play a crucial role in this regard, ensuring that airlines adhere to the highest standards to prevent such potentially dangerous lapses.

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