August 25, 2021 1 Kitchen Accessories admin

Global-level sporting events cater to millions of passionate fans during the course of the event—with notable events including the FIFA World Cup, held in Qatar in 2022, and the Winter Olympics held in February of the same year. These global events have taken center stage at a time when the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are slowly coming to a standstill, and an increasing number of countries have relaxed their previously strict entry rules.

With the ramp-up of large-scale, in-person sporting events comes a parallel increase in the number of food safety professionals required to oversee the catering of such events. In light of the pandemic, event organizers and caterers alike have come to understand the importance of food safety in such large-scale scenarios. Without a sound food safety management system and food safety professionals in place to oversee it, potential issues such as food safety and food poisoning complaints or foreign object contamination complaints can grow into insurmountable problems at a global event scale.

However, even with the implementation of a food safety management system, there may be unexpected issues that could occur on the day or even in the days leading up to the actual event. Issues with accessibility, monitoring, and even infrastructure could emerge, which could lead to a delay in operations at best, and a food safety management system failure at worst.

Security and Accessibility

Security access during global sporting events is highly advanced and monitored. Accessibility routes such as RFID badges, accreditation badges, and security access IDs are all part of building a tight security network during events. However, this can cause issues for food safety professionals who are required to monitor or audit large catering spaces, as access restrictions can unnecessarily delay audits or operations that may be time-sensitive in nature.

Granting security access to food safety auditors at the earliest convenience is the best way to avoid running into issues during a time crunch. However, it is prudent to keep in mind that requests for this kind of access may have a large lead time and should be applied for early.

Complaint Handling

Complaint handling is a complex process, even in the case of regular catering or retail operations. It involves procedures such as:

  • Root cause analysis investigations
  • Corrective action implementation
  • Customer interviews
  • Preventive measures.

During a one-off event catering to 1 million or more people, the entire process becomes much more complex; for example, tracing an anonymous food safety complaint becomes nearly impossible considering the sheer number of people being catered to and the many other variables at play. However, customer interviews can be helpful in identifying the food product that may have caused the complaint and are an integral part of root cause analysis as a whole. 

Infrastructural Limitations

The infrastructure involved in hosting global-level events is, in most cases, well-equipped; however, catering operations are sometimes put on the "back burner." In some cases, the infrastructure provided to catering teams is not properly equipped with regard to food safety, and elements may be missing such as:

  • Adequate handwash stations
  • Eyewash stations
  • Adequate cold storage space
  • Segregation spaces or garde mangers. 

In these cases, the food safety professional's job also becomes quite difficult. How does one evaluate the safety of operations if the infrastructure itself is not adequate? In such cases, it is important to spend more time focusing on the entire food safety process and how it has been altered in order to adapt to the present infrastructure.

Future Growth Prospects

The need for food safety has permeated into unexpected field of operation with global sporting events. The industry was valued at over $15.7 billion in 2022, with a steady growth rate of 13.9 percent. The scale of these events is set to grow and expand, which will also require a step up in the scale and standards applied to their catering.

Event management and food safety professionals alike will need to take advantage of technology developments and dynamic teams in order to implement up-to-date, effective, and efficient food safety management systems and food safety audits. Having the right technology, equipment, systems, and people in place will help catering staffs adapt to unexpected requirements without a hitch and ensure safe and efficient catering service for global-scale events.

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