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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Malaysian touch to global airline catering

The general manager of LSG Sky Chefs, the biggest airline catering company in Malaysia, Pieter Harting, is a Dutch professional who has worked in various parts of the world, including New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Having served in Malaysia for the last six years, he explains how his company is bringing a Malaysian touch to global airline catering.

LSG Sky Chefs is widely recognised in the aviation industry as the global leader in airline catering and the management of all in-flight service-related processes.

Headquartered in Neu-Isenburg, Germany and owned by LSG Lufthansa Service Holding AG, the group consists of 130 companies with more than 30,000 employees at 200 customer-service centres in 51 countries.

In total, LSG Sky Chefs produced about 405 million airline meals for more than 300 airlines worldwide last year.

Pieter Harting says Malaysian cuisine is popular on international flights.

A national identity

In Malaysia, the company is a majority Bumiputra-owned joint-venture known as LSG Skychefs Brahim’s Sdn Bhd. It started operations in Dec 2003, after it acquired a 70% share in Malaysia Airlines’ catering company.

LSG Skychefs Brahim’s operates at KL International Airport and Penang International Airport, servicing the national carrier and about 35 different airlines from various parts of the world. Its flight kitchen at KLIA sprawls over 11.3ha and employs 1,400 people, who prepare about 38,000 meals a day.

True to its Malaysian identity, the most popular dishes that LSG Skychefs Brahim’s prepares include Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng and the perennial favourite, Satay — complete with peanut sauce, sliced cucumber and ketupat.

The company also prepares Indian-style curries, Arab faoul, Chinese noodles and Japanese tempura, plus the full range of Western dishes. Popular Malaysian desserts include an assortment of Malay kuih. Meals are halal.

In line with standard airline procedure, the company also prepares meals for vegetarians, diabetics and other people with special requirements.

LSG Skychefs Brahim’s is fully HACCP compliant — this means the company adheres completely to the internationally-recognised system of Hazard, Analysis, Critical Control Point. Consequently, the highest international standards are followed during the whole catering process from raw material purchase and storage, to cooking, chilling, dishing and delivery.

In addition to its own stringent controls, the production process is regularly inspected by the health and aviation authorities, as well as teams from the various airlines.

Keeping it halal

In keeping with its prominent position in the Organisation of Islamic Countries, Malaysia sets very strict regulations to ensure all airline catering is according to the Islamic requirements.

Apart from the global LSG Sky Chefs Quality System compliance, LSG Skychefs Brahim’s also implements very strict halal (kosher) compliance.

With quality processes, you can have an acceptable margin of error, but with halal compliance, you can’t. Apart from purchasing only halal products, for instance, the company also has several other additional processes — even to the extent of ensuring the Islamic samak washing method in the dish-washing machines!

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