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Olympic food project updates 2012

Sustainable fish on London 2012 menus - panelSustainable food certification

During 2012, Sustain coordinated work with the nine food sustainability certification bodies named in the London 2012 Food Vision standards to coordinate expressions of support and concern to the London 2012 Games organisers (LOCOG). This resulted in January in LOCOG granting access to the details of the menus for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, to allow them to review progress and compliance with the London 2012 Food Vision, and hence decide how to support sustainability messages and reporting. In particular, Sustain worked with members of the Sustainable Fish City working party to review the sustainability of the fish that caterers were proposing to serve at the Games. We also helped the caterers to replace several questionable items, identify alternative and more sustainable sources, and therefore help LOCOG to make robust statements about their food sustainability achievements.

For several groups, there have been impressive wins, with the Fairtrade Foundation, RSPCA Freedom Food and Red Tractor Farm Assurance all reporting a good level of satisfaction with what has been achieved. Some remaining problems were identified with sustainable fish, and the Sustainable Fish City partnership has been working extensively since February 2012 to try overcome these challenges. The area in which there has been less evident progress is environmental standards for farming, with only a small selection of LEAF-Marque and organic certified foods planned to be served at the Games.

Sustainable fish on London 2012 menusThe images show how three of the food assurance marks were displayed on menus at the Olympic Park and other venues in 2012 - the Fairtrade Mark, the Red Tractor logo and the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label, as well as a statement about the use of free range eggs. This was a very helpful precedent, showing that assurance marks do not need to compete with communications space usually reserved exclusively for commercial sponsors.

London 2012 sponsors and the Torch Relay

Despite numerous attempts, we have been frustrated over the past year by the lack of progress with LOCOG providing links to London 2012 sponsors, Torch Relay organisers, National House coordinators and Live Site organisers to help influence their food as part of the lasting legacy from the London 2012 Games. Food remains relatively low priority in London 2012’s sustainability and communications work. As a result, we have had to attempt to make contact with such organisers directly through cold-calling and letters to un-named procurement teams, resulting in some – but limited – success. We recognise that time is now very short to win any further progress on sustainable food policies linked to the London 2012 Games, which is disappointing.

In April, Kath wrote to Tessa Jowell MP, shadow minister for the Olympics, objecting to her apparent support for an initiative by Coca-Cola to champion the ‘social value of sponsorship’, asking her to consider other effects of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of London 2012

Food Legacy 2012

We have been busy winning the support of a range of public and private-sector catering organisations for Food Legacy standards inspired by the London 2012 Food Vision. Highlights include plans for a Festival and Street-Food traders Workshop in May. As part of the Food for Life Catering Mark’s partnership with Food Legacy, they have agreed to update their standards to include healthy eating, providing free drinking water, and excluding endangered fish. With immediate effect, this will improve school food procurement standards in 17 London Boroughs, and 4,700 schools nationwide; and also all future Food for Life Catering Mark institutions.

Other meetings and activities with stakeholders have included with Anaphylaxis Campaign, to publish food allergy risk assessment guidance notes for the catering sector and Healthier Catering Commitment, to integrate this work into Food Legacy advice, and many others.

Local Food Finder

We have contacted organisers of local and sustainable online supplier databases to help promote their work, alongside our own online Local Food Finder. This quarter, we have re-vamped the online Local Food Finder and database, presenting it in a new and user-friendly format and with enhanced search functions (including sustainability credentials).

Communications and media

Despite restrictions on communication due to London 2012 sponsorship arrangements, and communication officers in several organisations being frightened of lawyers, we have been successful in generating stories and achieving positive media coverage. We have also publicised over 20 case studies (www.sustainweb.org/foodlegacy/for_caterers/) to represent a range of health and sustainability themes, approaches and institutions. More will be collected and published over the coming months.


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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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