Team USA supplying its own food for Summer Games

BEIJING -- The United States Olympic Committee's plan to bring its own food to China has disappointed the head of food services for the Beijing Olympics.

"I feel it's a pity that they [the Americans] decided to take their own food," Kang Yi, the head of the food division for the Beijing organizing committee, said Thursday. She added the USOC had not officially notified her department of the plan.

The USOC is planning to transport tons of meat and other foods to a training camp at Beijing Normal University.

The 600-plus American athletes are expected to eat their daily meals at the Athletes Village, USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. But the U.S. delegation also includes an additional 400-plus personnel -- support coaches, trainers, etc. -- who are not eligible for food service at the village and therefore will eat most of their meals at Beijing Normal.

Seibel said the food service at Beijing Normal will serve as a supplement to the village, which will house about 17,000 athletes and officials during the Aug. 8-24 Games and be capable of serving 6,000 meals simultaneously.

"We have absolutely no concerns about the quality and safety of the food in the Athletes Village," Seibel said. "Also, we will be sourcing products from local suppliers for our training table, in addition to bringing some products with us. We had the same approach during the Athens and Torino Games, as well."

Food safety in China has become a major issue for the Olympics, following recent incidents of tainted products and reports of the heavy use of drugs and insecticides in food production. Officials are aware a positive drug test triggered by contaminated food could ruin an athlete's career and generate a public-relations disaster for China, which is intent on showing itself as a modern, sophisticated country.

"We have made lots of preparations to ensure that they [athletes] can get together at the Olympic Games," said Kang, speaking at a news conference Thursday on food safety.

Another official said there was no evidence drugs and growth stimulants used in meat production could trigger positive doping tests.

"As far as we know we haven't found any scientific report on this," said Lu Yong, director of the Beijing Municipal Food Safety Monitoring Center.

Tang Yunhua, a spokeswoman for the Beijing Municipal Office for Food Safety, repeated Thursday the plans for extensive monitoring from the pasture to the plate -- using bar codes, satellite tracking devices and labor-intensive operations -- for food served at the Olympic Village.

"We can guarantee the food safety during the Olympic Games," Tang said. "And the standards for Olympic food safety are much more strict than international standards. So all the delegations can enjoy the food provided during the Olympic Games."