Rio 2016: Organizers struggling to meet overwhelming demand for halal food

Published August 16th, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
Egypt's Mohamed Mahmoud poses with his bronze medal on the podium of the Men's 77kg weightlifting competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (AFP/GOH Chai Hin)
Egypt's Mohamed Mahmoud poses with his bronze medal on the podium of the Men's 77kg weightlifting competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (AFP/GOH Chai Hin)
As much as 70 tons of halal poultry and meat, and 8,000 meals a day, were planned to be supplied to the 2016 Rio Olympics, but organizers are already looking at increasing these amounts due to an unexpected overwhelming demand, the event's halal food coordinator, the Islamic Center of Brazil said.

Daily demand has so far exceeded 10,000 halal meals a day from both Muslim and non-Muslim athletes and officials, Salaam Gateway reported.

“The organizing committee of the Rio Olympics is currently looking at increasing the supply of halal food to the event as the halal buffet witnessed remarkable demand from athletes and participants, even non-Muslims,” Nasser Al Khazraji, secretary of the Sao Paulo-based Islamic Center of Brazil said.

“This is a positive thing, of course, and proves that the culture of halal is present in non-Muslim nations,” he said.

This is not the first time the Islamic Center of Brazil is coordinating the provision of halal food to a large sporting event. 

During the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the non-profit organization coordinated with most of the hotels and training centers that were receiving delegations from Muslim countries, making visits to kitchens and equipping staff with knowledge.

Instead of having one dining area and kitchen as initially planned, the Rio Olympics now has two dining halls and kitchens – one for all types of food and the other exclusively for halal food.

The Islamic Center also proposed the set-up of separate warehouses to store halal food that would be served during the event, a step that facilitated their supervision of the products.

For 2016 Olympics, the Center worked through its representatives in Rio de Janeiro to ensure that the warehouses were in close proximity to the Olympics Village and that the halal meat did not mix with non-halal products.

While the Olympics’ organizers directly communicated with the suppliers, the Islamic Center kept an eye on the logistics.

Brazil has nearly 300 slaughterhouses for chicken and meat, but not all meet halal criteria. Therefore, the committee made agreements with Brazilian producers that were already exporting to Muslim countries.

The Center also provided training to the local cooks and staff who would be working at the halal kitchen, giving them the necessary information about halal food.

 

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