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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE November 17, 2003

Doctors Rate Airline Food for Healthy Options

Most “Buy-on-Board” Entrées Unhealthy; Only Delta’s Song Airline Ranks High

WASHINGTON—A report released today by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) rates 10 major airlines on the availability of healthy meals. PCRM found that as airlines have moved away from standard menus in favor of buy-on-board meals, passengers’ access to healthy options has decreased dramatically.

PCRM nutritionists reviewed both buy-on-board entrées and standard in-flight meals. The menus were rated for the availability of vegetarian and vegan (dairy - and egg-free) entrées (vegetarian meals are naturally lower in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and higher in fiber, making them a better choice for the health-conscious consumer). Of the 10 airlines PCRM rated, only one consistently provided healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner: Song, a new airline operated by Delta. Passengers who fly on Alaska, American, or United will want to call ahead and special-order a healthy option, while those flying American Eagle, Continental, Delta, Midwest, Northwest, and U.S. Airways will want to pack a lunch or purchase a meal in the airport before boarding.

How the Airlines Rank in Healthfulness of Meal Service

Superb Service:

This airline, which is operated by Delta, offers healthy vegetarian and vegan meals as part of the buy-on-board menu on all flights.

Plan Ahead:

Alaska, American, United.
These airlines offer vegetarian and/or vegan options, but travelers must usually special-order such healthy meals before their flight.

Falling Behind:

American Eagle, Continental, Delta, Midwest, Northwest, U.S. Airways.
These airlines make only a rudimentary effort at providing vegetarian and vegan meals—or they offer none at all.

“It’s both disappointing and surprising to see such a lack of vegetarian food on the menus—given its growing popularity,” says Brie Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D., clinical research coordinator for PCRM and the primary researcher for the report. “We hope next year all the airlines will follow Song’s savvy lead and make healthy vegetarian meals always available.”

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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