The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set up a special Food Safety Squad of 10 inspectors who will visit businesses selling food in towns and cities hosting Olympics or Paralympics events or with Live Sites between now and July.
Inspectors will ensure food being sold is safe and that operators are aware of the implications involved in catering during busy times or over extended hours.
Sarah Appleby of the FSA said the idea was to give support to the industry during what could be a busy time for many rather than give extra stress to food operators. However, businesses that are found lacking in food hygiene will be subjected to extra training and enforcement will follow, as it would in the case of routine inspections, if public health is found to be put at risk.
“It will be an exceptionally busy time for a lot of these businesses, and the FSA is providing extra support and advice to make sure they are well prepared to meet the challenge,” she said.
Business owners should expect visits outside of routine inspections with those who need to do more work in this area likely to be visited more often.
Ben Milligan, an environmental health officer from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and a member of the Food Safety Squad said catering during the unique event could bring about situations operators hadn't encountered before.
He said: "From my regular conversations with food businesses around East London I know the Games are seen as a real opportunity in terms of business and profits. At the same time, having to serve more people than normal can create situations that don’t arise under normal circumstances, such as the need to produce and store lots of food in advance.”
The Food Safety Squad is one of a range of methods being brought in by the FSA to help minimise the chance of food safety incidents happening during London 2012 an event which it is hoped will give a boost to the hospitality industry.
The agency has set up a training programme for small businesses in Olympic areas in need of improvement and is working closely with contract caterers within the venues themselves to help with sampling and food safety checks.
For more information visit www.food.gov.uk/olympics