Saturday, October 2, 2010


The controversy ridden Common Wealth Games (CWG) event at Delhi appears to be becoming more controversial because of poor quality of food being served. While one can expect minor glitches when an event of such magnitude is organized, lack of attention to one of the fundamental issues pertaining to safety and quality of food served can become a sore point with potential for long term damage to the image of the country. It is intriguing as to how the food supply contractors can serve "rotten" foods as claimed by some reports though some leeway can be given for marginal lowering of the eating quality. With less than 48 hours to go for inauguration of the Games and most country contingents checking in at the Village, one can only hope that Organizing Committee (OC) of the event could make a turn around and provide high quality foods with absolute safety. It must be borne in mind that many foreign guests have "weak" stomachs vulnerable to even mild infections and extra care needs to be taken to prevent any mishaps on this score.

"The complaints about food have been coming in ever since the caterer started supplying the food packets from September 23, say officials. Late delivery of the packets and the poor quality of the food given to the workforce had created much heartburn. Lalit Bhanot, secretary-general of the OC, had admitted that the food packets were reaching the venues late, though he claimed that the schedule was being streamlined to ensure timely delivery. Sources, however, say that matters reached a head earlier this week when the packets not only reached venues late but were also of extremely bad quality. At places, the food was so bad that it was rejected by the food safety inspectors, forcing the workforce to go without meal. In fact, on Thursday, the food packets at both Siri Fort Stadium as well as the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium were not found conforming to the safety standards as prescribed by the OC and several thousands of packets had to be thrown away. Staff at Siri Fort said that the lunch packet, comprising rice, roti, vegetables and dal, had turned bad, forcing the workers to get food from outside. Now, the OC is hoping that the new batch of caterers will be able to appease the thousands of workers who are at the venues. As an interim measure, the OC has even talked of using the pre-cooked meals available in markets for the workforce. Officials admit that the problems with catering have had an impact on the other functional areas as well, especially volunteering. Said a senior OC official, ''The volunteers are not paid".

A distinction needs to be made between foods "delivered" to the workers and those provided in the Games Village to the participants, though there cannot be any excuse for serving foods "smelling" bad to any one. With the in-house food preparation facilities commissioned, the quality is bound to be better and if latest reports coming from the Village dining halls capable of serving 40000 guests a day are any indication, the participants are likely to carry good impression about the quality and diversity of foods offered during the duration of the Games. There cannot be any let up of vigil by the safety authorities, lest even a minor lapse can become an embarrassing incidence.

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