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Food Safety Squad Preps for London Olympics

At undisclosed locations across London, there are sites ready to store seized foods and even food trucks. Liaisons with the courts have distributed emergency applications for food seizures and establishment closures. All that is necessary is for local health authorities to fill out the forms.

The Food Safety Agency in the United Kingdom wants to prevent anyone from getting food poisoning while attending the London 2012 Olympic games. FSA has been working for months to make everyone attending the games gets only safe food and beverages.

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Earlier, the FSA Olympic work focused on temporary food outlets that might pop up to take advantage of crowds attending the games. More recently, FSA’s own “Olympic Team” has brought out a “Food Safety Squad” to fan out and visit existing restaurants and hotels located around Olympic venues.

Purpose of the Food Safety Squad visits it to let establishments know that increased food safety scrutiny will be in place until both the Olympic games and Paralympic events are over.

Tim Smith, the agency’s executive director, Tuesday briefed the FSA Board of Directors on the Olympic preparations. He pointed out that while most of the focus is on what happens inside the venues, visitors spend most of their time outside the venues.

Among the preparations are:

– Grant funding was provided to London and the other local authorities to finance stepped up compliance at local food businesses.

– Business training and coaching was made available to help new businesses and “low compliant” food outlets. An estimated 1,960 premises at venues and 960 other sites will be helped by the time the games begin.

– About 100 auditing and inspection refresher sessions were held for local officials.

– A “Play it Safe” public relations campaign has been launched, featuring the work of the Food Safety Squad.

– FSA is plugged into the emergency communications team that is set up for the Olympics.

During its visits with hotels and restaurants, the FSA team is encouraging establishments to focus on staff training, extra storage and preparation facilities, nailing down waste and pest control plans, and being realistic about risk assessments.

Thousands are expected to attend the London 2012 Olympics, which begin in just over two months. The games will run from July 27 to Aug. 12.

It the third time the modern Olympic games have been held in London. Nazi bomb damage was visible at the last London Olympics in 1948. The first time was in 1908 when the sun never set on the British Empire.

These summer games will involve 26 sports divided into 39 disciplines with competition coming at both old and new venues, including well-known places like Wembley and Wimbledon.

The London Organizing Committee has been working since 2005 when the UK capital beat out both New York City and Paris. London has redeveloped an area on the east side of the city for 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 then be used for the Paralympic Games beginning on Aug.  29.

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