Why England's World Cup Players Have Their Food Tested

World Cup Qatar is officially underway, drawing more than 1.2 million fans from around the world to the first Arab host country in the tournament's history (per Los Angeles Times). That number, however, leaves out the thousands of reporters, government leaders, and of course, the 32 teams of the sport's highest-tier athletes. The month-long event is undoubtedly the sport's biggest stage, with the FIFA president projecting that more than 5 billion fans will tune in via television (via Reuters) — 50 times the viewership of Super Bowl 2022, per Statista.

Being a quadrennial tournament, World Cup players train and compete for years in hopes of qualifying for the event. Once granted the opportunity to represent their home countries at the sport's highest level, one thing is prioritized above all else — and no, it's not beer sales, it's performance. According to Nature, extreme heat and humidity are some of the shared challenges faced by World Cup players in Qatar. However, there's another threat that Tim De'ath, the former personal chef to England's Three Lions, told The Mirror UK will be taken very seriously throughout the tournament: food poisoning.

Food testing at the World Cup

In the interview with The Mirror UK, De'ath told reporters that "The threat of food poisoning is always there. There will always be someone in the kitchen to monitor and to make sure nothing was being tampered with, and hygiene is at a top level." Although Qatar has some of the lowest incidents of food-borne illnesses in the Arabian Peninsula, per The Peninsula, it's also very likely that the English players will be banned from eating at local souks, the open-air markets that are common in northern Africa and the Middle East (per Mirror UK).

Throughout the competition, De'ath says chefs will likely provide the team with daily menus posted to every player's hotel door. Home comforts such as custard, Jaffa Cakes, and Haribo gummies are shipped in from England, and De'ath claims he traveled with his own tried and true spices when he was with the team. Dishes served to the players will feature meat and fish from pre-approved Qatari suppliers.

It's also said that officials from FIFA will make randomized visits to acquire food samples throughout the length of the tournament. Speaking of previous tournaments, De'ath notes, "They will take samples of all dishes, bag it and freeze it, and if there was a problem they could take it out and test it."