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Food at Olympics is safe: Officials
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Beijing yesterday reaffirmed the safety of food at the Olympic Games after media reports that the US contingent plans to prepare its own meals at the Games due to safety concerns.

"We've made great efforts to ensure safe supplies for the Games and we hope athletes dine together," Kang Yi, chief of the food division of the Games services department, told a press conference.

"If the US delegation is not at these gatherings, I would personally regret it," she said.

Some foreign media including The New York Times reported earlier this month that the US Olympic Committee had arranged with sponsors to ship about 11,000 kg of lean protein to Beijing for the Games in response to concerns about the potential impact of veterinary drugs and insecticides on athletes.

But Kang said her division had received no formal notification from the US regarding the plan.

She also made it clear that according to established international practice, foreign athletes cannot take their own food into the Olympic Village.

Tang Yunhua, spokeswoman for the Beijing municipal office for food safety, also said such worries were unwarranted.

She said the city had spent nearly three years developing an extensive monitoring and supervision system over the entire supply chain from breeders to slaughterhouses and distribution trucks.

"We're very confident and capable of offering safe food for the Games," she said, adding that quality controls adopted by the city before the Olympics now exceed international standards.

In response to fears that antibiotics and growth stimulants used by some breeders to boost yields could lead to positive doping tests, officials said there was no evidence to prove it.

"Globally, there have been no scientific reports that show drug tests yield positive results after athletes or people eat certain types of meat," Lu Yong, director of the Beijing municipal food safety monitoring center, told the press conference.

"China has very strict rules. Forbidden drugs cannot be used in breeding, so we can guarantee safety," he said.

(China Daily February 22, 2008)

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