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Food safety assurance for Games

By Lei Lei (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-07 10:44

Beijing Olympics organizers yesterday unveiled meticulous plans to assure athletes of healthy food and sound air quality during the Games.

The pledges came two days before the city marks the one-year countdown to the opening of the 2008 Summer Games.

"Our country and the Beijing municipal government are taking the food safety issue very seriously, especially for the Olympics," Wang Wei, an executive vice president of the Beijing organizing committee, told a press conference.

"Actually, Beijing has hosted a lot of big events and there have been no problems regarding food safety in these events."

Food to be delivered to athletes will be closely monitored throughout the process of production, processing and transport.

State-of-the-art technologies such as global positioning satellite system will be used to help track food during the production and distribution process, according organizing committee action guidelines.

Other measures include:

Staying vigilant on food safety and enhancing information collection;

Improving market entry system for food suppliers;

Strengthening food safety monitoring and supervising systems;

All food entering the Olympic Village will carry a logistics code so to enable tracking.

Wang said measures will also be taken to ensure food safety for the general public, who will be informed of how to buy safe food.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine yesterday announced similar measures to make sure food products for the Games were safe to consume.

Also at the press conference, the organizing committee spelled out contingency plans for improving air quality during the Games.

"Air quality is not only a matter for Beijing's image, but also a matter concerning the health of athletes and the general public," Wang said.

"In order to secure clean air during the Games, we will unveil some contingency plans and some of them will be rehearsed during the upcoming test events."

In order to test the venues and organizing systems, Beijing will trial more than 40 test events before the opening of the Games. Some media reported last month that Beijing would haul vehicles off the city's roads for two weeks in August to rehearse traffic control measures for the Beijing Olympics.

However, Wang said the specific plan is still under discussion and will be released at an appropriate time.

Last November, Beijing imposed a six-day ban on at least 490,000 government vehicles and advised private drivers to take buses to make way for a summit meeting of Chinese and African leaders.

Traffic was surprisingly smooth even in the busiest areas during the week and the air quality evaluated was much better.

"If we want to get cars off the roads, we want people to do it willingly," Wang said.

"It is not only for the traffic conditions, but also for the improving the air quality. We want to know the effects of those measures.

"During the test events, we will also establish some monitoring stations around the venues to supervise air quality."

Acknowledging some public concern about the Games, BOCOG said it welcomed media reports that were objective, fair and comprehensive, but opposed the "politicization of the Olympics".

"We welcome constructive criticism on our faults and defects, but we resolutely oppose the politicization of Olympic affairs, for this is not in accordance with the Olympic spirit and Olympic charter," Jiang Xiaoyu, also a BOCOG executive vice president, said.

The officials also played down the public and media's high expectations of China's athletes at the Games.

"As stated by our sports officials, China's sports strength is still in the second tier of the medal tally," Wang said.

"The unexpected is what makes the Olympics so appealing and exciting. We want to offer a fair stage for athletes from all over to perform well."