McDonald’s officially exempt from games’ food requirements

According to the NFU a question mark hangs over the company about whether all the food it supplies will comply with the Red Tractor standards, the baseline requirement for Olympic suppliers.

ONE of the biggest and almost certainly the best-known food supplier at London 2012 will be McDonald’s.

The fast food chain has been a sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1976.

As an Olympic partner organisation - alongside other global giants such as Coca Cola, Visa, Dow and Panasonic - McDonald’s is officially exempt from the requirements of the London 2012 Food Vision as it has its own arrangements in place with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

According to NFU head of food chain Lee Woodger a question mark hangs over the company about whether all the food it supplies will comply with the Red Tractor standards, the baseline requirement for the non-IOC partner Olympic suppliers.

What the Food Vision means

LOCOG has set the Red Tractor as the benchmark standard in a two-tier system. This means:

  • All meat, traditionally British cheeses such as cheddar, other dairy products and where seasonally or realistically available fruit, vegetables, salads and cereal based products will be UK farmed and grown, fully traceable and produced to Red Tractor standards from farm to venue
  • Eggs must be British Lion mark and free-range
  • Any food imported will also be required to be traceable and additionally, products such as bananas, tea, coffee or sugar will be Fair Trade
  • All chocolate products will also be Fair Trade or ethically sourced
  • Suppliers will be asked to consider how a proportion of food can meet additional ‘aspirational’ standards, including RSPCA Freedom Food, free-range pork and chicken, organic or LEAF Mark certified

Adhere to standards

As McDonald’s sources much of its beef from Ireland, and most of its chicken is imported, much of it from Thailand, ‘they can’t adhere to Food Vision standards’, he argued.

“The imported food maybe assured but they can’t say it is equivalent to Red Tractor,” he said.

A McDonald’s spokesperson insisted the fast food outlet was keen to promote ‘British Isles’ food during the event and said all its imported chicken is produced to Red Tractor standards.

“Nothing is more important to us than serving great tasting food made from high quality ingredients, which is why at London 2012 we will be showcasing the British and Irish farms and farmers who are rearing and growing 55 per cent of the ingredients for our food which will not only be served at the Olympics next year, but also in every restaurant up and down the country,” she said.

She added all McDonald’s beef is sourced from the UK and Ireland, its pork is 100 per cent British and all its eggs are free-range and British, as is its organic milk.

From the beginning of 2012, 60 per cent of its chicken will be from Western Europe, 10 per cent of which will come from the UK.

Food must haves

The 2012 Olympics will provide a fantastic opportunity to promote and showcase UK agriculture.

But what foods should tourists eat and why?

“I think everyone should be eating locally produced British beef and British lamb. It makes use of the best use of natural resources of grassland and water, of which we have plenty in the North West.”

Bill Mellor, chairman of NFU North West livestock board

“A lot of crops like cauliflowers and cabbages are going down in popularity but our spring onions and leeks are actually going up. People are realising they can use them at any time of year, with spring onions being used in all sorts of dishes like stir-fries, not just as they traditionally were, in salads. It is the same with leeks and people are using them in summer, not just in winter.”

Roy Lyttle, Ulster Farming Union vegetable policy committee chairman

“We’d urge tourists to try our famous Thatchers Gold and Taunton ciders as well as our Cheddar Ale which has just won recognition to be served in the House of Commons.”

Liz Scott, who runs Cheddar Farmers Market, Somerset

Food Advisory Group members

NFU, British Hospitality Association, Cadbury, City University London, Coca Cola, Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, Defra, Food and Drink Federation, Food Standards Agency (FSA), Government Olympic Executive, LOCOG, London Food Board, McDonald’s, Sustain, the Russell Partnership, Westminster Kingsway College, WRAP, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), FCSI, Thames Valley University.

Food Sub groups

Sustain, Covent Garden Market Association, Compassion in World Farming, AHDB, Freedom Food, LOCOG, FSA, CIEH, LEAF, London Food Board, Assured Food Standards.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Chicken.... imported from Thailand....?
    McDonalds are a complete joke.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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