This Is London, May 9, 2008
For decades the national dish has been a staple meal on the national carrier.
But now British Airways has taken beef off the menu for economy passengers amid concerns about its “religious restrictions”.
The airline has instead switched to a fish pie or chicken dish option for the so-called “cattle class” passengers.
BA’s second-biggest long-haul market is to India, where the majority Hindu population do not eat beef because of their beliefs.
The decision to scrap the nation’s favourite fare was described as a “great shame” by the English Beef and Lamb Executive, formerly part of the Meat and Livestock Commission.
A spokesman said: “It is regrettable that Britain’s flag carrier is not proposing to serve Britain’s national dish.
“It is a meal we are rightly proud of. Roast beef and beefeaters are symbols or Britain used to promote tourism.
“Our beef is also much in demand overseas. It is predominately grass fed and highly praised for its flavour.
“It is obviously up to British Airways to decide what they serve on flights, but beef is an ideal meat for making into airline meals.” A BA spokesman said the it stopped serving beef to economy class passengers last month.
He added: “We can only serve two options and beef and pork obviously have religious restrictions.
“We have to try to use two meals which appeal to as many customers as possible. This summer season we are offering customers in World Traveller on most longhaul flights a choice of chicken and tarragon or fish pie.
“We also look at trends from major supermarkets to see what types of meals are popular and fish pie style meals are selling well at the moment.
“These two meals proved popular in tasting tests and are also proving popular on board.
“It has nothing to do with the fear of causing offence—we always offer alternative meals for people with special dietary requirements if they order in advance.
“We are still serving beef based meals on certain menus in First Class and Club World and are currently deciding on whether or not to use beef on the menus for World Traveller customers for the winter season.”
The Hindu Council UK said: “The Hindu community will welcome this decision and the news it has been made partly because Hindus don’t eat beef.
“Hindus have a great deal of respect for British culture and are well integrated into the British way of life, so it’s good to see evidence of how they are literally flying the British flag by choosing British Airways.
“That said, Hindus are tolerant of the beliefs of others and do not expect everyone to stop eating a food because they do not eat it.”
In the past three months world beef prices have risen from about £2,500 a tonne to more than £4,000 a tonne, largely because of the weakening dollar and rising feed costs.
BA also said that cost is not a reason for the decision to stop serving beef.