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China Pledges Safe Olympic Food Supply


China is responding to international concerns over food contamination by outlining an elaborate system to ensure food safety for this year's Olympic Games. AS VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing, these concerns were sparked by a series of highly public discoveries of tainted food products from China - and may be leading the U.S. Olympic team to take its own precautions.

From farm to table, authorities in Beijing say they are able to track the progress of farm animals and crops aimed for human consumption.

The Beijing Olympic organizing committee Thursday showed reporters an elaborate Internet-based supervision system that provides detailed information of food products at every step of production.

Chinese authorities say they will also set up mobile response teams to react quickly if there are any problems.

One worry is the possibility of banned chemicals in the Chinese meat supply, and the chance that athletes consuming such meat could be accused of doping. The New York Times quotes caterers working with the U.S. Olympic Committee as saying athletes eating such tainted food could test positive for steroids.

The Times report says the U.S. Olympic Committee is shipping 11,000 kilograms of beef, chicken and pork to China for the games.

At Thursday's news conference, one journalist asked about the report.

Tang Yunhua, of Beijing's Food Safety Office, said athletes will not be allowed to bring their own food into the Olympic Village. She says Chinese authorities cannot guarantee the safety of outside food, and will not know if it is up to the correct standards.

However, the Times report said most of that food being brought by the Americans will be served at the U.S. Olympic athlete training center at Beijing Normal University, which lies outside the Olympic village.

Kang Yi, food division chief for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, called the U.S. team's reported plans "regrettable." She says the Chinese authorities have made a lot of preparations for the athletes of the world to get together. "It is a pity," she said, "if the U.S. team is not taking part in these preparations."

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