sharing the Olympic spirit
OLYMPICS/ Olympic Nation

Restaurants told to take dog meat off menus
By Wang Zhuoqiong
China Daily Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-07-12 08:42


Beijing's 112 officially designated Olympic restaurants have been banned from selling dog meat during the Olympics, the city's food safety administration has said.

Non-designated restaurants (especially those serving Korean, Yunnan and Guizhou cuisine) have also been encouraged not to serve the meat, a notice drawn up earlier by the administration said.

All meat transported into Beijing during the Olympics will be checked to prevent violations, the notice said.

"Dog meat sales are being suspended as a mark of respect for foreigners and people from ethnic groups," an anonymous official with the administration was quoted as saying by Beijing Daily on Friday.

Zhao Haiyou, a manager of the Olympic-designated St Regis Beijing hotel, said he received the notice last week.

"We will make sure no dog meat is served during the Games," he said, adding that it had never been on the menu.

Traditional Chinese medicine regards dog meat as highly nutritious, but the consumption of canines has always been a controversial topic. During the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the South Korean government asked its citizens not to eat dog meat during the Games to avoid bad publicity.

The controversy surfaced again during the 2002 World Cup. Organizers, under pressure from animal rights groups, demanded the South Korean government tackle the issue.

Wang Tao, manager of a Korean barbecue chain restaurant in Beijing, said he would adhere to the ruling.

Animal welfare activists have hailed the move.

He Yong, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said removing dog meat from menus was a good thing.

"The Olympics offers an opportunity to improve Chinese food culture," he said.

But some locals have said the ban is an overreaction, aimed at pleasing Westerners.

Wei Wei, 30, who lives in Beijing's Chaoyang district, said most Chinese people do not eat dog.

"Dog meat is only a tiny part of Chinese cuisine," she said.

The Olympic Games should be a platform to show cultural differences and tolerance, she said.

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