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Sustain's response to London 2012 Food Vision

London 2012 Games must ‘go for gold’ with Olympic food standards

Statement from Sustain, 7 December 2009, in response to LOCOG Food Vision: www.sustainweb.org/publications/?id=280

Campaigners for health and the environment broadly welcomed today’s announcement by the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games [1] that they have committed to serving healthier, ethical and more sustainable food. The Olympic organisers have gone for gold in some areas – promising to serve only sustainable fish, fairly traded food and drinks, and encouraging caterers to use local and seasonal food. They have also promised to require that catering staff are trained to meet the standards, and created some opportunities for smaller food businesses to take part. But so far, animal welfare and environmental standards are expressed as ‘aspirational’ and would struggle to get onto the winner’s podium.

For example, there is as yet no percentage target for the proportion of high welfare Freedom Food accredited meat to be served, or for organic products. This compares unfavourably with the Danish Government’s approach to catering at the UNCCC international climate change meeting in Copenhagen [5], which also started today, which is specifying (among other things) 65% organic food (includes environmental and animal welfare standards), fair trade products, and tap water instead of bottled water.

The commitments are set out in a London 2012 Food Vision, published today by LOCOG, the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games. This is the first time that a major international sporting event has addressed food sustainability issues in a catering policy. Kath Dalmeny, Policy Director for Sustain [2], said, “Back in 2005, the London 2012 bid made an ambitious commitment to a low carbon Games, which included sustainable food [3]. We understand that sustainability commitments were among the main reasons London won the opportunity to host the Olympic Games. Some of the commitments in the London 2012 Food Vision launched today are admirable. But LOCOG and its caterers need to work hard to achieve all of their ethical and environmental promises when they negotiate catering contracts during 2010. Food has a massive part to play in keeping these promises. By doing so, LOCOG will create a world class food legacy for Britain to be proud of.”

The London 2012 Games is a significant opportunity to influence catering standards and raise public awareness of food sustainability. At the London 2012 Games, approximately 14 million meals will be consumed by Olympic visitors – the public, athletes, staff, volunteers, dignitaries and journalists [4]. It is estimated that 4 billion people from all over the world will tune in to watch London’s Olympic Games.

Notes to editors

  1. LOCOG has launched its London 2012 Food Vision on 7 December, 2009. LOCOG is the London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. See: www.sustainweb.org/publications/?id=280
  2. Sustain is the alliance for better food and farming, which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Kath Dalmeny, Sustain’s policy director, sits on the LOCOG Food Advisory Group. See background information at: www.sustainweb.org/olympicfood/
  3. Food is responsible for between one fifth and one third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable catering for the London 2012 Games would: use local and seasonal ingredients; specify food from environmentally friendly farming; use less but better livestock products (raised to high welfare and environmental standards); specify only demonstrably sustainable seafood; promote ethical and fairly traded products; avoid bottled water; and promote health and well-being through healthier ingredients and cooking practices; with healthier and more sustainable choices promoted to Olympic visitors. See: www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefood/
  4. Between July and September 2012, the UK will be the focus of world attention. Approximately 4 billion people around the globe will watch the London 2012 Games. More than 10,000 athletes will participate, 8.6 million tickets will be available for the Olympic Games, with another 1.5 million for the Paralympic Games. And 300,000 tourists are expected to travel to the Games from outside the UK.
  5. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, December 7 to 18, 2009. Their sustainable catering policy can be downloaded at: www.sustainweb.org/olympicfood/olympic_food_standards

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