Caterers operating at Olympic venues have slammed the heavy-handed rules that force them to hide any branding other than that of official games sponsors.
All brand names and logos belonging to any company not on the list of official Olympic sponsors must be covered up in order to comply with regulations laid down by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic & Paralympic Games (Locog).
It's not just food and beverage packaging that needs to be covered up. Operators have been told that they must cover the logos on all equipment that might be seen by customers, including coffee machines, ovens, soap dispensers, CCTV cameras, tills, smoke alarms and fridges.
Stephen Minall, owner-director of food-to-go operator Wrapid, which has a concession at Olympic venue ExCel, said: "We're all a bit frustrated because the direction from Locog has been pretty poor. We aren't getting any financial support; we're only getting pain, so to speak."
But a London 2012 spokesman said its brand protection team would not be officious, adding: "There are rules in place with regards to branding at games time, but we will take a pragmatic approach.
"Our priority will be front of house, and branding will obviously be covered in a safe and practical way. All of our operators and contractors are aware of the regulations, and we continue to liaise directly with them on this matter."
Minall went on to express frustration at what he saw as the missed opportunity to showcase the best of British food and produce as a result of the strict sponsorship deals.
He said: "It is time that Locog and the Olympic committee looked at the impact sponsor contracts have on the national identity of food, drink and brands in host countries.
"If the UK cannot promote our heritage of fine ales and beers because of a Heineken deal or our food brands like Costa, Pret or small developing brands like Wrapid, what exactly is Britain promoting?
"The sponsors of this Olympics are all foreign brands. There is no British heritage or traditions and in essence this stops the promotion of our culture."
Olympic food and drink prices under fire
Caterers operating at Olympic venues have come under fire after their food and drink prices were revealed by the London 2012 organising committee.
Heineken beer, the only lager that can be served at the games under the Dutch brewer's exclusive sponsorship deal, will cost £4.20 for a 330ml bottle. This works out at £7.23 a pint. According to the British Beer and Pub Association, that makes it more than double the national average for a pint (£3.17).
Coca-Cola, another major sponsor, will cost £2.30 for a 500ml bottle, while the brand's bottled water - the only one available at the games - will cost £1.80. A serving of pie and mash or cod and chips will be £8 and lamb curry will sell for £8.50.
But Paul Deighton, chief executive of the games, denied that the prices are excessive.
"We believe our prices are more than comparable to those found at other major sporting events, which, because of their temporary nature, are often more expensive than the high street," he said.
Around 14 million meals are expected to be sold through 833 food outlets across 40 locations during the games, with up to 150 dishes on offer.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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