Reports of pigs been specially fed an organic diet and receiving exercise daily in order to feed Chinese athletes for next year’s Beijing Olympics have caused a stir among bloggers.
The Chinese government has embarked on a programme to raise pigs specially for the Olympic athletes both from China and other participating countries.
Background to the uproar online is the growing frustration of ordinary Chinese with tainted food and inhumane working environments. In addition, pigs are an important commodity in China with a special government-controlled pork reserve.
A recent outbreak of PRRS among pigs caused much concern among government officials on account of the resulting increase in inflation to 6.5% in August.
A press conference was held by the Qianxihe Food Group or Lucky Crane, the supplier of pork for the Olympics, in Beijing last August announcing this project. The company’s stated aim is provide the athletes with the purest of meat with no substances which could interfere with doping tests.
So what does this programme involve? Various press resources revealed that the pigs would be doing ‘at least two hours exercise every day’.
The location of the pig farms are top secret for anti-terrorism purposes, but have been chosen carefully with regard to the quality of air, water and soil. The pigs are reported to be fed with a diet of special organically-grown geed and Chinese herbal medicines.
A member of the panel of experts for food safety for the Beijing Olympics, Luo Yunxiang stated that is was acceptable for such irregular, temporary measures to be taken in order to guarantee food safety during the Olympics. He assured that the Olympic pork would be distributed to the general public after the Games.
However, disagreement with this programme has been reported even among government officials. The Director of Research and Development at the China Meat Research Center in Beijing, Qiao Xiaoling, predicted that the Olympic pork would be unaffordable for the average Chinese citizen at a cost of twice the normal price.
Qiao did emphasise that ordinary pork is safe to eat, but did acknowledge that the Olympic pork may be better quality.
There is an element of support for the programme on the Internet. A Shanghai consultant, Laura Yang, is quoted as stating that the food safety applied during the Olympics is vital for the country’s image.