The Russian consumer rights watchdog advises Russian airlines not to take in-flight meals in China

The Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has cautioned Russian citizens traveling to China against eating red meat while in the country.

Rospotrebnadzor director and Russia's chief epidemiologist Gennady Onishchenko told Interfax on Friday that his agency was following a Chinese inquiry against a criminal group who had been selling rat and fox meat as lamb for several years.

"That is why Russian air carriers have been given a recommendation not to take in-flight meals in China," he said.

"Since many people are going to China on vacation today, we have started to alert our citizens about this problem. We advise them to refrain from eating red meat - beef and lamb," Onishchenko said.

The Primorye and Khabarovsk Territories, as well as the Amur region have also been alerted about possible attempts to smuggle hazardous meat from China, the official said.

"Russian citizens who are going to China on vacation and for business have been informed of the situation as fully as possible," he said.

 Russian tourists have been alerted about the continuing H7N9 flu outbreak in China, which has already claimed the lives of 26 people, Onishchenko said.

"We do not ban trips to China, even though the flu-linked situation is getting more serious there. We are still troubled by this flu, in addition to the new problem with meat," he said.

 Rospotrebnadzor will study a Chinese H7N9 flu strain, which should be provided by the World Health Organization soon. The work will be handled by the Vektor research center in Novosibirsk.

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