Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates December 14, 2017: Etihad Airways was this week recognised for its commitment to travellers' wellbeing after announcing it will become the first airline in the Middle East to offer Weqaya-approved meal selections onboard its flights.
The Department of Health (DoH) acknowledged the efforts of the UAE's national carrier at a ceremony at SIAL Middle East 2017, one of the region's leading events dedicated to the food, beverage and hospitality sectors, which is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.
With the support of DoH, Etihad Airways' plans to offer healthy meal options on its flights which comply with the standards of the Weqaya programme are a significant step towards providing passengers a healthier journey.
Etihad Airways will work closely with DoH to ensure meals offered in a pilot phase meet the strict Weqaya food standards. Meals must be rich in minerals, vitamins and fibre, and low in saturated fats and salt, to carry the official Weqaya mark.
Etihad Airways will start rolling out the new menu options across its lounges and onboard all classes – First, Business and Economy – on flights from April 2018. In December 2016, Etihad Aviation Group introduced Weqaya-approved meal options to its six staff restaurants.
Dr. Nadia Bastaki, Etihad Aviation Group Vice President Medical Services, and Linda Celestino, Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Experience and Delivery, accepted the certificate of recognition on behalf of Etihad Airways.
Dr. Bastaki said: “It is so important for Etihad Airways to start incorporating healthy meals into our product and services. With an increase in diseases such as diabetes and obesity in our society, it makes sense for us to target this next area to further enhance our food offering for all guests. Working closely with HoD will provide the support to develop this new and exciting initiative.”
Linda Celestino added: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded our Weqaya status by HoD, and we are excited for all of our staff and guests to see the distinct Weqaya logo next to the healthy options on our onboard menus as well as in our lounges and staff canteens.
“As the first airline in the region to introduce Weqaya-approved healthy food options on board Economy, Business and First Class cabins, Etihad Airways once again proves to be ahead of the curve, paving the way and setting a great example within the industry, towards a healthier future.”
Dr. Omniyat Al Hajeri, Director of Public Health Division said: 'The efforts of the Department of Health to provide healthy food in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi continue. Cooperation with Etihad Airways is a demonstration that our efforts towards making Abu Dhabi a healthy society knows no boundaries or distances. Following a healthy lifestyle is our ultimate goal, which makes us ensure that health options are available to them anywhere, anytime, even thousands of miles from the earth.”
'We thank Etihad Airways for their commitment to providing healthy onboard options, and their efforts to enhance the health and wellbeing of their travelling customers, especially those who already embrace a healthy lifestyle as they will be assured that their nutritious meal meets the highest standards. The Abu Dhabi Health Department is in line with their healthy lifestyle.' Al Hajeri added.
DoH's Weqaya Nutrition Programme was launched in September 2013 to raise awareness about healthy food items available at food outlets in the Emirate, while encouraging the outlets to increase their healthy offerings. HoD collaborated with the Quality Conformity Council (QCC) and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) to update the standards.
Weqaya Food programme will help contribute to the effective reduction of risk factors associated with major non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.