Thursday, January 3, 2008

China addresses food safety, beggars

By the Associated Press

BEIJING — China, which has been plagued by food safety
problems, will set up a center to monitor food standards at the
Summer Olympics, state media reported Thursday.

The Olympic Food Safety Command Center will tackle the task
during the Aug. 8-24 Games and deal with any food-related
emergencies, Xinhua News Agency quoted Zhang Zhikuan, head of the
Beijing Industry and Commerce Bureau, as saying.

Xinhua said food supplied for the Olympics will be checked
against specific technical standards.

“Precautions must be taken to avert any trace of terrorist
attacks on our food supply chain,” Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying.

Problems in China’s food supply are common, due to lax standards
and improper use of chemicals, preservatives or drugs.

Such concerns were heightened last year after some Chinese food
exports, such as seafood, were found to be contaminated with
dangerous chemicals.

BEIJING — Beijing has launched a campaign to remove beggars
and unlicensed sellers from Tiananmen Square and a major street
running through the center of the city in the run-up to the Olympic
Games, state media reported Thursday.

Beggars and unlicensed peddlers will be fined and have their
goods confiscated, Xinhua News Agency said.

The crackdown also will focus on Chang’an Avenue, the city’s
major east-west artery that cuts across the top of the square.

Tiananmen is a major tourist attraction and visitors are
constantly accosted by beggars and people selling maps or fake
goods such as watches.

Xinhua quoted Yu Hongyuan, deputy director with the Beijing city
police, as saying the around-the-clock patrols were aimed at
uprooting illegal activities and building a “harmonious, civilized
and sound” environment for the Olympic Games.

Police already have started using sniffer dogs to detect
fireworks and other explosive substances on Beijing’s subway
stations ahead of the Olympics, which start Aug. 8.

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