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    Mice to Test Olympic food

    Mice will be used to test the safety of key food items prepared for athletes at the 2008 Olympics, Beijing health officials say.

    Samples of milk, alcohol, salad, rice, oil, salt and seasonings will be fed to white mice 24 hours before the food items are scheduled to be used in the athletes' meals, state media quoted health official Zhao Xinsheng as saying.

    Mice will be used because they react to food poisoning within 17 hours, faster than other food-testing mediums such as bacterial cultures, Zhao said.

    All food items bound for Olympic venues will be securely stored, centrally recorded, and delivered by special vehicles monitored by public security and quarantine staff.

    Alarms, security cameras and smoke detectors will be fitted at all food storage areas, and kitchens will have 24-hour security guards, he said.

    Most of the food will be Western-style, with some Chinese dishes, BOCOG official Zhen Xiaozhen said.

    Beijing will begin training its health inspectors in Western food management and inspection techniques this month.

    But some food items, including liver, are already banned from Olympic menus because they are likely to contain substances that could produce positive drug tests in the athletes' urine samples, anti-doping official Yang Shumin said.

    Poultry and livestock in China are commonly "fed with additives that contain blacklisted hormones", Yang was quoted as saying.

    Beijing Going Underground

    As the battle for Beijing's real estate market becomes more intense, developers plan a massive expansion of the city's underground commercial projects.

    City planners have earmarked 17 key areas, including the Wangfujing shopping area and the Chaoyang business district, for the underground expansion.

    They aim to triple the usage of underground space to 90 million square meters by 2020.

    About one-third of the new underground space will be used for shopping and other commercial purposes, with most of the rest housing car parks, subway stations and other public transport facilities, state media quoted officials as saying.

    Michael Chang Offers to Coach Chinese Tennis Team

    Chinese-American tennis star Michael Chang has offered to coach the Chinese Olympic tennis team for 2008.

    Chang made the offer to Sun Jinfang, head of the Chinese Tennis Federation, during a meeting on the sidelines of the ATP Masters Cup in Shanghai.

    But Sun played down Chang's ch
    Tennis player Michael Chang. 
    ances of getting the job, the Xinhua news agency said.

    "I gave him some practical advice, for he has no experience and he may not have enough understanding with the players," Sun was quoted as saying.

    "He may not be successful [in his application] and we should be prepared for that," Sun said.

    Fines for Slow Snow Clearing

    The increasingly image-conscious Chinese capital has warned residents and businesses they face fines of up to 125 dollars if they fail to clear snow within a few hours.

    "When snow falls, please join us in clearing it to ensure smooth and safe road traffic and keep the city clean," says an open letter from the city government, which plans to send 50,000 copies to residents and organizations along major downtown streets.

    Daytime snow must be cleared within four hours, and overnight snow must be cleared by 10 a.m. Slow snow clearers face fines from 500 yuan to 1,000 yuan (62.5 dollars to 125 dollars).

    No snow has fallen in downtown Beijing so far this winter but the first snowfall is likely within the next month. Uncleared compacted snow usually turns black within a few days.

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