Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BYOF: The U.S. Food Strategy at 2008 Beijing Olympics

Being your own food!

The food quality in China is so suspect that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) plans to drop ship more than 25,000 pounds of meat and other foods to a training camp at Beijing Normal University. The USOC will serve athletes in several locations near the Olympic village during the 16-day event.

Other countries are considering the same thing, and Beijing is somewhat annoyed. “I feel it’s a pity that [the Americans] decided to take their own food,” said Kang Yi, the head of the Food Division for the Beijing organizing committee.

The move sounds drastic, but a look at the food quality issues in China reveals a serious cause for alarm. A caterer working for the USOC told the New York Times about finding a half chicken breast measuring 14 inches long while shopping in a Chinese supermarket. The abnormally large chicken breast could have fed a family of eight.

There’s also the worry that tainted food could lead to a positive drug test. "We had it tested, and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes," caterer Frank Puleo told the Times. "They all would have tested positive."

Chinese produced food is, uh, not too appetizing. One seaport in China had 40 shipments of seafood to the U.S. denied by the FDA. China has been polluting their waters to the point of depletion. This depletion is forcing farmers to mix illegal veterinary drugs and pesticides into fish feed to neutralize the effects of the toxic water. Mmm… Mmm…

The USOC has made arrangements with sponsors like Kellogg and Tyson Foods to ship 25,000 pounds of lean protein to China about two months before the opening ceremony. The food shipped in will place an emphasis on healthy nutrition, which officials hope will boost athletic performances.

The moral of the story is that if the air doesn’t make you hack, then the food will get you.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist.

1 comment:

  1. Below is the response from the USOC:


    There are a couple of important assertions in your blog that are simply incorrect. You should know our athletes will eat the majority of their meals in the Athletes Village and we are confident the food in the Village will not only be safe, it will be outstanding.

    Our meal service at the high performance center (Beijing Normal University) is for two purposes:

    1) Beyond the 600-plus athletes from our delegation who will have most of their meals in the Athletes Village, we have more than 400-plus personnel (support coaches, trainers, staff, etc.) who will not have access to the Village but nonetheless need food service every day.

    2) And as a supplement to the outstanding choices that will be available in the Athletes Village, which is the primary option.

    In reference to the quote that ran in the N.Y. Times by the Staten Island caterer, you should know that the testing referenced in the quote did not take place under USOC auspices. In fact, the USOC had no knowledge of the testing.

    Let me reiterate, we have absolutely no concerns about the safety or quality of the food in the Athletes Village.


    Nicole Saunches
    Manager, Marketing Communications
    United States Olympic Committee