China says no "Olympic pork" for Games

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BEIJING, Nov 12 (Reuters) China sought today to allay fears about food safety ahead of the Summer Olympics with tours of model meat processing plants and said no ''Olympic pork'' was being prepared for the Games.

Officials denied that levels of hormones or antibiotics in meat provided during the 2008 Games would be adjusted to avoid false-doping tests and said all food destined for the Olympics was the same as that for the general population.

''We have the same management system for all consumers, including for the Olympic Games,'' Li Yuanping, of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told reporters.

Reeling from a rash of health scares that have put the spotlight on unscrupulous food suppliers and corruption in enforcement agencies, China announced in August it would breed pigs using hormone-free food for Olympic athletes.

But earlier this month, organisers denied the existence of special pigs being raised on secluded farms, saying that because the vast majority of pork in Beijing met safety standards there was no need for special products.

At Pengcheng Foods, which provides Beijing about 45 per cent of its fresh pork, journalists were treated to the sight of rows of hogs being prepared for the dinner table, their hair singed off with a blow-torch before they were split open, gutted and butchered, their hearts placed on a special assembly line.

Pengcheng general manager Yang Wenke repeated the message from Olympic officials that there was no need to adjust production for the Games.

''I've never heard of Olympic pork,'' he told reporters. ''The problem of food safety is for the whole world to consider. It isn't something just to do with the Olympics.'' Asked what the difference would be between pork served to athletes and that in the general market, he said: ''They are completely the same'', adding that the company processed pork from its own farms, where they were able to control the feed.

But despite the strict supervision, it was not clear that Pengcheng would be among the official providers for the Games.

''That's not what we are discussing today,'' Li Zhanjun, director of the media centre at the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games said, when asked when food suppliers would be chosen.

At Beijing Huadu Broiler Co., where 36 million chickens are processed every year, the message was the same.

''There is nothing special,'' said General Manager She Feng, when asked about food destined for Olympic villages.

''According to the demands of the Olympic restaurants and hotels we may raise specifications, but the safety standards are the same,'' he said without elaborating.

Reuters RAR DB1845

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