Beijing Olympics

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Olympians Will Have Their Food Tested in Beijing

January 08, 2008 10:37 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
China pledges to establish a “Food Safety Command Center” to look for toxins in meals at the 2008 Olympics, and ingredients will be traced using GPS. The organizers cite concerns about terrorism, but other sources say the danger is simply the local cuisine.

30-Second Summary

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“Precautions must be taken to avert any trace of terrorist attacks on our food supply chain,” Zhang Zhikan, the head of the Beijing Industry and Commerce Bureau, told Xinhua News Agency.

But in a nation beset by problems arising from lax regulatory standards and the widespread misuse of chemicals and drugs in food, terrorism is probably not the most pressing danger facing summer Olympians when they sit down to eat.

In fact, in November 2006, Yang Shumin, the former head of China’s Olympic doping control center, warned that athletes dining out in Beijing might test positive on various drug tests without ever having knowingly taken steroids.

“Chinese food is contaminated with banned drugs like anabolic steroids to such an extent that the possibility is real,” Yang is quoted as saying in China Daily.

In the same month as Yang issued his advice, Zhao Xinsheng, a member of the Beijing Municipal Health Inspection Bureau, announced that all the foods used to prepare meals in the Olympic Village would be tested on white lab mice.

Mice show adverse reactions within 17 hours of ingesting a contaminant, and would thus produce results much faster than laboratory tests.

Although it is unknown whether that plan is still viable, Executive Vice President of the Beijing Olympic Committee Wang Wei recently said that global-positioning satellites would be used to track all Olympic food.

Few details were given, but Wang did say, “The whole process will be monitored from the start of production through transportation to the end users.”

Beijing’s latest efforts cap a year in which the discovery of chemically contaminated Chinese pet food and seafood heightened international safety concerns.

Headline Links: Protecting the Olympians

Background: Rodent food testers; China’s export woes

‘U.S. Detains Farmed Seafood from China’
‘States Ban Catfish Imports from China Over Tests’
‘Toxin in Pet Food Added Deliberately’

Related Topics: Doped-up food and anti-rain rockets

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