The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a new taskforce of environmental health officers to increase the focus on food safety in the run up to and during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Food Safety Squad will carry out extra hygiene inspections of food outlets to make sure that all food sold, cooked and eaten during the Games is safe.
The 10-strong team will represent the many hundreds of environmental health officers across the UK also carrying out additional hygiene and safety inspections on food businesses in preparation for the Games.
The focus of the campaign is on areas that are likely to see a big influx of visitors and an increased number of food outlets during the Games period, such as towns and cities hosting events, and live sites (venues with big screens that will show events live).
Food businesses that do not make the grade on inspections will be given one-to-one training to ensure they are aware of, and follow, food hygiene regulations. Tough enforcement action will follow where public health is put at risk, said the FSA.
Sarah Appleby, head of enforcement and local authority delivery at the FSA, commented: "We have so much fantastic food to showcase to Games visitors, and we want food business owners to ensure that everything they sell is the best it can be.
"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."
The Food Safety Squad and Play It Safe awareness campaign is operating alongside a variety of FSA measures to minimise the risk of food safety incidents occurring during London 2012.
These include a food safety coaching programme for small businesses in Olympic areas that are in need of improvement; funding and training initiatives for local authorities in Olympic areas; and providing extra equipment for sampling and checks on cleaning for enforcement officers working on the ground in Olympic areas.
The FSA is also working closely with LOCOG's contract caterers within Olympic venues, and helping with sampling and checks on the food supply chain.
Further information for food businesses and the general public will be available during the coming months on www.food.gov.uk/olympics and through a dedicated Twitter feed which will be launched in the coming weeks, @playitsafefood.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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