System to ensure safe food for athletes

By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-11 06:51

A quality control system to ensure safe food for Olympic athletes has been established and is ready for use at next year's Games.

A database detailing when and where all Olympic foodstuffs were reared or grown, picked, processed, transported and distributed has now been set up, the city's food safety watchdog said yesterday.

"For instance, immunization shots and other medicines given to cattle and poultry, as well as pesticides used on vegetables will be included in an electronic record for future reference," Tang Wenhua, an official with the food safety office affiliated to the Beijing municipal government, said.

"The tracking system allows us to quickly identify the origin of all foods and the processes they have gone through in the event of a problem or emergency," Tang said.

The monitoring and tracing system also aims to apportion accountability at each step along the production chain in a bid to spur those involved to ensure food safety, she said.

Currently, the system includes five vegetable and fruit growing bases, 41 food processing and logistics distributors and 10 supermarkets.

During the Games, athletes' ID cards will also carry details of their eating habits and these will be scanned each time they enter a canteen, Tang said.

The upcoming "Good Luck, Beijing", a small-scale version of the main event to be held on August 8, will witness the first use of the new technology.

City authorities have also been working with the French biotechnology company bioMerieux on a system for testing and tracing sources of food contamination.

In addition, Zhang Zhikuan, director of the Beijing municipal industrial and commercial bureau and food safety office chief said the city has been developing a database to monitor food production, supervise quality procedures and measure the credibility of suppliers.

Some 345 varieties of food in 10 categories are currently being monitored by the new system, according to the food safety office. Any enterprise found to be producing substandard products is given a bad credit record.

"Endorsed by 34 departments including the industry and commerce administration, quality supervision, healthcare and agricultural authorities and banking institutes, the credibility database has been a boon for the food industry," Tang said.

Since 2005, Beijing officials' performance on food safety issues has been part of their annual evaluations.

The proposed amendment to the food safety regulation, currently under review by the municipal legislature, is expected to be made by the end of the year.

(China Daily 07/11/2007 page4)

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours