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My Job at SATS: I am a Food Checker who inspects more than 300 in-flight meals daily

My Job at SATS: I am a Food Checker who inspects more than 300 in-flight meals daily

If you are someone who aims for perfection, you will enjoy Sharina’s job.

Sharina Binti Shaari is a Food Checker at SATS – a job where every little detail matters. She walks us through the ins and outs of her role.


Sharina Binti Shaari, Operations Assistant (Food Checker) at SATS Catering

A Food Checker’s daily hustle

SATS Group operates two in-flight catering kitchens in Singapore that produce more than 120,000 meals per day – each one prepared according to safety and hygiene standards.

But here’s the thing: before the meals are transported to the tarmac and up the plane galley, they will first go through an inspection done by Sharina and other food checkers. Their job? To make sure everything is accurate.

As a Food Checker, Sharina is responsible for checking every meal cart is loaded with the correct number of meals (regular and special), cutlery, and other items as requested by the airline.

“We’re like the last line of defence,” Sharina explains. “Our job is to make sure every cart is perfect before it’s handed out to the flight crew.”

Read also: I've spent 35 years delivering meal carts to aircraft

Checklists and beyond

Sharina’s job demands an extraordinary level of precision. “Every meal, every cutlery, every cart – it has to be just right,” she highlights. Her most reliable assistant – a checklist from the Catering Control Department outlining the requirements for each flight.

“My day revolves around the checklists,” Sharina chuckles. On any given day, she might be juggling two or three flights, each with 300 meals to inspect. Sometimes, she can be assigned to a massive aircraft requiring 550 meals. And it is no easy task.

Sharina confesses it typically takes her around four hours of groundwork to finish checking more than 500 meals. That’s not even counting the time it takes to load the approved carts onto the tarmac and hand them over to the flight crew.


Sharina’s workstation is filled with meal carts that require checking

Even though technology has taken over the world today, Sharina's role is a manual affair. The discerning human eyes and meticulous attention to detail are needed to confirm the accuracy of meal tray contents. Add to it the pressure to complete everything by the stipulated time, and you’ve got yourself a taxing job.

“It’s not just about ticking boxes,” Sharina explains. “For me, I’m part of the team that helps to enhance passengers’ journey by making sure they get the correct, safe, and best meals onboard.”

Ups and downs of the job

Sharina finds fulfilment in the little victories her team shares. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching a flight depart, knowing you played a part in making it happen,” she reflects with pride.

What adds an extra layer of excitement to Sharina’s role is the adrenaline rush that comes with it. “Dealing with last-minute changes requires us to solve problems on the fly,” she shares.

At times, there will be hiccups, such as a spoilt cabin chiller or a change in the menu. Sharina’s job includes troubleshooting such situations. Yet, these challenges don’t discourage her. “I don't regret joining this team. I’m grateful to be a Food Checker,” she proudly declares.

The journey continues

Approaching her two-year mark in the role, Sharina knows it is one for keeps. So much so that she’d recommended the job to her friends and relatives.

“There’s nothing quite like this job,” she beams. “Being a small part of the big airport operations is what keeps me coming back every day."

Her advice to newcomers? “Be open to learning everything along the journey.” Sharina’s eagerness to learn shines through in her role. When she completes a flight, she would see the process of food checking for other airlines. “It’s a great way to learn the nuances of different airline requirements and processes,” she explains.

To Sharina, perfection in her work as a Food Checker might be an impossible feat, but she does not stop aiming for it.


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