Mayor of London Boris Johnson has urged businesses in the capital to produce healthier meals with British ingredients to drive investment and create jobs.
A quarter of London businesses sell food and Johnson wants them to use the 2012 Games as an opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the industry.
The food industry is London’s second largest manufacturing sector, generating billions of pounds for the capital every year and employing hundreds of thousands of people. The sector can keep pace with the public’s demand for better and healthier food by stimulating demand for higher quality ingredients and helping businesses to raise their standards.
Johnson said: “Catering for the 2012 Games is a mammoth operation and a lot of hard work has gone into raising the standard of the meals that athletes, workers and spectators will consume. We want this to generate a step change in the commercial food sector, providing a boost for our food industry in terms of investment and jobs.”
Food will be served across 40 locations at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the bulk of the 14 million meals forecast to be served during the games being served up in London. Caterers are being encouraged to use seasonal and farm-assured foods grown in Britain, as well as sustainably sourced fish and meat produced with higher animal welfare standards. Meanwhile, Fairtrade coffee, tea, bananas, chocolate and sugar will be used, while traditional cheese such as cheddar must be British.
The mayor is working with London Food chair Rosie Boycott to spearhead the initiative, along with the London 2012 Games organisers, Defra and NHS London. The initiative aims to create a lasting change in the UK’s catering industry to benefit farming and food industries, as well as consumers. Businesses looking to buy local and sustainable food will be matched with suitable suppliers by the scheme.
Boycott said: “The London 2012 Games represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to inspire change through the adoption of good food standards for the ultimate benefit of Londoners and all those visiting our city to enjoy food. This work will create an important legacy which will stimulate the market for better quality food.”
Caterers for the London 2012 Games and a number of restaurants in the capital have already signed up to the new standards.