SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's national marathon team, who are training for the London Olympics this summer, are raising their own chickens for food to avoid ingesting banned chemicals commonly found in meat in China, the Shanghai Daily reported on Friday.

The athletes, who are training in China's southwestern province of Yunnan, are also procuring yak meat from local highland herdsman to avoid eating at local restaurants where banned additives are sometimes present in food.

Clenbuterol, a banned chemical, is sometimes fed to livestock by unscrupulous farmers to produce lean meat that can then be sold for a higher price.

The chemical is also considered a performance-enhancing drug and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"Since we don't have a canteen to provide safe food, we have to cook meals ourselves because it is risky to eat at a street restaurant," the newspaper reported a team official as saying.

A number of food-safety scandals were highlighted in China last year, from watermelons injected with growth-hormones, to bacteria-laced dumplings and fake eggs. In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 fell ill from drinking powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial compound added to giving misleadingly high results in protein tests.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Chris Lewis)