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  • Verbruggen Visits; Food Safety for Olympics


    Hein Verbruggen in Beijing this week. (BOCOG) 
    (ATR) IOC Beijing chief Hein Verbruggen makes his first visit to the Olympic city for the year, predicting that "2007 will be another successful year for BOCOG". Meanwhile, food safety experts are increasing their scrutiny ahead of the Games.

    Verbruggen Predicts "Successful" 2007

    The head of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Beijing Olympics opened two days of project review in the Olympic city, his first visit of the new year.

    "There might be some difficulties and mistakes, however, through continuous successful cooperation between IOC and BOCOG, the year 2007 should be another successful one in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games," Hein Verbruggen is quoted on the BOCOG website.

    He will be a regular visitor this year, spending close to two weeks in Beijing this April when the full coordination commission meets, followed by SportAccord, the convention owned by the General Association of International Sports Federations, GAISF, of which Verbruggen is president.

    Food Safety Watch

    Top health officials say they will step up monitoring of Beijing's food markets and restaurants in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, following a spate of food-related health scares in the Chinese capital.

    "We are taking robust measures in order to safeguard food and drug safety," city health director Jin Dapeng told reporters Wednesday at a press conference hosted by BOCOG.

    "This year is a very important year for the preparation work [for2008]," Jin said.

    City and Olympic officials will focus on control and prevention of infectious diseases, food and drinking water safety, and boosting the emergency response capacity of key hospitals, he said.

    Recent health scares in Beijing concerned issues including the use of a potentially carcinogenic industrial dye in ducks' eggs, illegal meat sales, bird flu, and a parasitic infection transmitted by undercooked snails.

    The city has employed 6,480 food inspectors to try to guarantee the safety of all food products, said Zhang Zhikuan, the head of Beijin
    Food safety will be a priority for Beijing ahead of the Olympics. (ATR) 
    g's commercial bureau.

    "Major accountability systems have been established from the farmers' fields to the dining table," Zhang said.

    The inspectors plan to take about 100,000 samples this year and have testing systems in place at Beijing's six major wholesale markets, Zhang said.

    Faced with "declining public confidence in the official response" to food safety, the Beijing government has also devised a color-coded system of alerts for dealing with food emergencies, the official China Daily newspaper reported Tuesday.

    In a recent nationwide survey of 4,500 people, 82 per cent expressed concern over food safety, the newspaper said.

    In a report published Monday, the Asian Development Bank estimated that 300 million Chinese people fall ill through spoilt or contaminated food each year, costing China between 0.2 and 0.9 percent of its total economic activity.

    With reporting in Beijing by Bill Smith.

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