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Food Safety at Games Top Priority: Quality Chief

Olympic food suppliers should tighten their management procedures to ensure products are not sabotaged before or during the Games, the country's top quality control official said on Friday.

Li Changjiang, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), said firms should also keep video records of their monitoring procedures for use in the event of any tampering.

"The safety of Olympic food is our top priority," Li said.

"We must look carefully into every step of the production process and be vigilant to possible sabotage."

Li made the comments while on a tour of two Olympic food suppliers in Beijing - Guchuan Food Company, which is part of the Beijing Grain Group, and the Daoxiangcun Foodstuff Company.

At Guchuan, which will supply rice, Li tasted some cooked rice and asked where it was from, and how it was stored and packaged.

He also told the company's manager to maintain video monitoring records of the rice's storage and production until the Games end. Usually, firms overwrite their monitoring tapes every 20-30 days.

Li made similar remarks at Daoxiangcun, a supplier of traditional Chinese dim sum, and asked the company to pay special attention to its raw ingredients.

China's food safety has been in the international spotlight following a number of scares last year.

The incidents triggered concerns about the food for the Beijing Olympics.

Also, last week, the Ministry of Public Security said it had discovered plans to sabotage food supplies and was aware of possible terrorist attacks during the Games, which added to safety concerns.

However, on Friday, Li said the AQSIQ had drawn up detailed plans and was confident Olympic food supplies will be 100 percent safe.

For example, quality control officers will be stationed at every Olympic food factory to conduct inspections, all food products will carry a unique tracking code, and transport vehicles will be equipped with GPS devices, he said.

Suppliers are also aware of the importance of food safety.

"We have drafted detailed plans to prevent contamination and will do whatever we can to ensure food safety," Wang Guofeng, general manager of the Beijing Grain Group, said.

Also on Friday, Li visited the Olympic tennis venue to check on newly installed equipment, including elevators.

Such equipment requires close inspection as "it is directly related to people's safety and we must prevent accidents", he said.

On the orders of the AQSIQ, all new equipment at Olympic venues must undergo a safety check and trial run ahead of the Games.

(China Daily April 19, 2008)

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