New Delhi: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) on Monday signed an agreement with the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) for transfer of food and beverage processing technology and packaging that would upgrade its catering operations.
According to the agreement, the DFRL, a defence-ministry establishment working under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), will transfer the technical knowhow and testing processes for quality assurance for IRCTC’s ready-to-eat packaged food for the rail commuters.
ICRTC Chairman and Managing Director A.K. Manocha said, “IRCTC has been taking several new initiatives to upgrade, professionalise and standardise its catering services in Indian Railways. The MoU will go a long way in providing quality and hygienic ready-to-eat packaged food to passengers.”
The trial for preparation of Ready to Eat (RTE) food with the assistance of the DFRL technology has commenced. 
The rollout of 36,000 RTE packs of vegetable biryani, rajma-chawal, jeera rice, tamarind rice, lemon rice, wheat Uuma, dal rice and chicken biryani is planned in the first week of July.
“Apart from conducting some sample surveys and feedback on IRCTC managed trains, the launch for commercial sale is also on the anvil,” Manocha added. 
“This will help IRCTC to provide safe, unadulterated, nutritious and hygienic food to the railway passengers. It has been our constant effort to provide quality and hygienic food to rail passengers. The agreement is a step in this direction,” he said. 
Food items will be available in 150-300 gm packets whose shelf life is six months. 
The meals will be offered at a discounted price of the MRP (Maximum Retail Price) in the initial phase, to test the response of the passengers.
Besides the launch of RTE food, IRCTC is also in talks with Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) for its assistance in food processing, packaging technology, training, menu planning and quality control. 

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