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Food Safety Is Top Priority for London 2012 Games

Transportation, terrorism and tickets have been among the top concerns for planners of London 2012, the summer Olympic Games that begin in just 120 days.


But now they are turning their attention to a new problem—what to do about food safety problems like refreshment stands that might pop up to take advantage of millions of visitors expected to flock to East London for the games.

Leaping in to help is the Food Standards Agency, which warns that anyone thinking about quickly going into the food business to serve those attending the games has to be registered and follow the rules.

Any food business located on a public roadway or path in the United Kingdom must obtain a “street trading license” from the local authority, and “anyone not following these procedures may face tough enforcement action,” FSA warns.

“The Games are likely to bring communities together and create a wonderfully festive atmosphere,” says Sarah Appleby, the FDA enforcement chief. “They also offer opportunities for the more enterprising among us.  But this summer the UK welcomes the world to the Olympics and it is more important than ever that the food being sold is safe.”

She said anyone thinking about selling food or drinks at the Games should check with their local authorities about the regulations and obtain licenses and registrations “well in advance.”

London 2012 planners have estimated 14 million meals will be sold at the 40 Olympic venues; that will be the largest peacetime catering operation in the world based on the amount of food and people.

Responsible for food safety at the Games, the FSA said it is working to:

– Improve the hygiene standards of food businesses near Olympic venues

– Police attempts by illegal mobile catering operations to locate near the Games

– Prepare to manage any foodborne illness outbreak that occurs during the Games

– Enhance local enforcement skills and capacity

– Plan for coordinating food sampling inside and outside Olympic venues

– Advise food and animal food importers.

The food safety plan for London 2012 involves not only FSA and local enforcement authorities, but also the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which deals with public health threats from infectious diseases and environmental hazards.

In the UK, local registration is required to sell food from a mobile unit. Registration usually triggers local inspection. A Q&A on what’s required is found at FSA.

Among those who might have an interest in the UK’s food safety plans are the thousands of Americans expected to attend the Games.   

London is the first city to host the modern Olympic Games three times.  Previous games were held in the city in 1908 and 1948.  

Since 2005, when it beat out both New York City and Paris to become the location of the 2012 Summer Olympics, London has redeveloped an area on the eastside of the city for the Olympic Park. It was previously contaminated industrial land.

The summer games will involve 26 sports divided into 39 disciplines with competition in both new and old venues including such familiar places as Wembley and Wimbledon.

Ultimate oversight is by the London Organizing Committee. There is also a Joint Local Authority group to represent the four London boroughs that form the Olympic Park.

The Games of the XXX Olympiad, the official name of London 2012, will begin July 27 and continue through Aug. 12.   The same venues will be used for the Paralympic Games beginning on Aug.  29.

© Food Safety News