NEW YORK, NY (PR) -- There will more than 51 million passengers traveling during this holiday season (Dec. 15th -Jan 4th) according to trade group Airlines for America. Knowing what are the ”best” and “worst” choices is a valuable tool for any traveler, so Dr. Charles Platkin, the director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and editor of DietDetective.com., once again studied the best “Calorie Bargains” and "Calorie Rip-offs" at 35,000 feet.
Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and DietDetective.com have released the 2017-18 Airline Food Study, rating foods for twelve (12) airlines. The study assigned a “Health Score” (5 stars = highest rated, 0 star = lowest rated) based on criteria including healthy nutrients and calorie levels of meals, snack boxes and individual snacks, level of transparency (display of nutrient information & ingredients), improvement and maintenance of healthy offerings, menu innovation and cooperation in providing nutritional information. The survey includes health ratings, average calories per airline, comments, best bets, food offerings, costs, and nutrition information (e.g., calories, and exercise equivalents). See the full study at http://www.dietdetective.com/airline-food-investigation/
“This year Delta and Virgin America share the top spot as the airlines with the ‘healthiest’ food choices in the sky. with Air Canada and JetBlue tied for second,” says Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the executive director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and editor of DietDetective.com.
The average number of calories per menu choice was 360 in 2012; in 2013 it was 388; in 2014 it was 397; in 2015 it was 400; in 2016 it was 392; and this year it's 405 calories, a 13 calorie increase over last year. However, calories are not everything; the survey also looks at the nutrients in the foods when they are provided (they are requested each year), as well as innovations moving towards healthy, tasty, inexpensive, sustainable foods.
Here are the major airline food headlines:
• Delta is the clear leader among the major carriers and is tied with Virgin America this year as the healthiest airline.
• Alaska Air purchased Virgin America, and the goal is to maintain the status-quo when it comes to food in all categories until next year.
• American and Delta have once again started offering complimentary meals in economy class on domestic flights, something we haven't seen in more than 15 years.
• Airlines are eliminating those oversized packages of snack foods and offering individual smaller packages or eliminating individual snacks altogether.
• Some airlines are going back to serving individual complimentary snacks, but they’re not very healthy. How about an apple or an orange, or maybe a Clementine or a Halo (mandarin orange).
• The "Shame on You" award goes to Hawaiian, United Airlines and American. Hawiian just does not respond while United’s food and beverage department seems put-out by the process, and it shows in their responses to queries. American Airlines is not much better, with a media rep who also seems annoyed by the process.
• Note to all airlines: It is not difficult to get nutritional information for all foods. Every airline uses detailed recipes; all they have to do is put the ingredients into a free online food calculator (such as supertracker.usda.gov), and in a few minutes they could have complete nutritional information.
• Read the press release from the FDA commissioner: “One important step is ensuring consumers have access to reliable and actionable information about the foods they eat so that they can make more informed choices about their diets and health for themselves and their families.” Menu labeling is coming in May 2018