The food served by Indian Railways is unfit for human consumption, an audit report on catering services conducted by the Comptroller and Audior General has found. The CAG had conducted a joint inspection of 74 stations and 80 trains selected across Zonal Railways.

The report had damning comments on the cleanliness and hygiene levels at the units that provided catering for the stations and in trains. “Unpurified water straight from tap was used in the preparation of beverages, waste bins were not found covered, not emptied regularly and not washed, food stuffs were not covered to protect them from flies, insects and dust, rats and cockroaches were found in trains etc.”

The report also said catering service officials engaged in unfair practices at stations and trains. “Bills were not given for the food items served in mobile units in trains,” the report said. “Printed menu cards with tariff for the list of food items sold in the mobile units were not available with waiters and catering managers in trains.”

The audit examination, which was conducted from 2013-14 to 2015-16, said the quality of catering services had not improved over time. The report said this was largely caused by the constant changes in the government’s catering policy, which often means that the responsibility for train food keeps shifting from the railways to IRCTC and back. “[These] have created a state of uncertainty in the management of catering services provided to the passengers over the years,” the report said.