Restaurants asked to keep dog meat off menu during Olympics

By Pranay Sharma, IANS,

Beijing : Exotic items like dog meat may be missing from the food menu in China during the Olympics scheduled to begin Aug 8.

Support TwoCircles

Authorities here have asked the 112 designated Beijing restaurants for the Games to keep it off their menu and imposed a ban on its sale keeping the sensitivity of foreign visitors in mind.

According to the China Daily, even non-designated restaurants, especially those that serve Korean, Yunnan, and Guizhou cuisine, have been encouraged not to serve dog meat by the city’s food safety administration.

In a notice issued some days back, the authorities have said all meat transported to Beijing during the Olympics will be checked to prevent violation.

“Dog meat sales are being suspended as a mark of respect for foreigners and people from ethnic groups,” the Beijing Daily said Friday quoting an anonymous official with the administration.

But many Beijing residents expressed surprise over the issue as they pointed out that it was never a popular item in Chinese cuisine.

“It is not like pork or beef which are very popular among most Chinese,” Li Bin Xin, division chief of All China Journalist Association and a resident of Beijing told the visiting IANS correspondent.

He added, “Maybe it is popular among Koreans or some people from China’s northeast. But it is not considered as a delicacy or a popular item in our food.”

Similar views were expressed by some of the restaurant owners in Beijing. The China Daily quoted Zhao Haiyou, a manager of the Olympic designated St. Regis Beijing hotel, as saying that he has received the notice issued by the local authorities last week.

“We will make sure no dog meat is served during the Games,” Zhao told the paper while adding that it has never been on the menu.

The China Daily said traditional Chinese medicine regards dog meat as highly nutritious, but the consumption of canines has always been a controversial topic. During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the South Korean government had asked its citizens not to eat dog meat during the Games to avoid bad publicity.

The controversy re-surfaced during the 2002 World Cup when organizers under pressure from animal rights groups had demanded that the South Korean government deal with the issue.

Wang Tao, manager of a Korean barbeque chain restaurant in Beijing, told the Daily he would adhere to the ruling.

Animal rights groups hailed the Chinese government’s decision. He Yong, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said removing dog meat from the menu was a good thing. “The Olympics offer an opportunity to improve Chinese food culture,” he was quoted by the China Daily as saying.