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Not A Happy Meal: Russia's Top Health Official Slams Hamburgers And Sushi

Russia's top health inspector has described McDonald's sandwiches as "an excuse for food."
Russia's top health inspector has described McDonald's sandwiches as "an excuse for food."
Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief health inspector, has called on citizens to stop eating hamburgers.

Onishchenko's comments on July 23 came following reports that worms were found in a McChicken sandwich from a McDonald's restaurant in Moscow.

Onishchenko, the country's top health official, told the Interfax news agency that he was prepared to conduct an inspection of the restaurant if the woman lodges an official complaint. He referred to the McChicken sandwich as "an excuse for food."

Then, Onishchenko turned his ire at hamburgers.

"I would like to remind our fellow citizens that hamburgers, even without worms, are not a good choice of a meal for residents of Moscow and of Russia. This is not our cuisine."

On July 23, the Kommersant FM radio station interviewed a woman who gave her name as "Mariya” who said she found worms in the box containing her McChicken sandwich.

“We got into the car and I began to eat the McChicken,” she said. “I’d eaten more than half and at some point I saw there was a worm on the cardboard box which the food comes in... Then I saw inside the actual box there was another worm on a lettuce leaf from the sandwich."

According to the report, McDonald's refunded Mariya's money for the sandwich.

Despite repeated attempts, McDonald's could not be reached for comment.

Onischenko's hamburger warning marked the second time this summer that he has counseled Russians to opt for national cuisine over foreign dishes.

Last month he recommended that people stop eating sushi, sparking a series of inspections that reportedly uncovered nearly 100 violations and restaurants paying 694,000 rubles ($21,400) in fines, the RIA-Novosti reported.

Onishchenko has a history of giving medical advice and issuing warnings about imported food and drink that assist the Kremlin's political goals.

Amid unprecedented anti-Putin protests last December, for example, Onishchenko warned Russians not to take to the streets lest they succumb to the winter weather and catch a cold.

In the past he has also ruled that Moldovan and Georgian wines were unfit for consumption and banned them, decimating one of the countries’ most lucrative export industries at a time when Chisinau and Tbilisi’s relations with Russia had hit a low.

He has also taken aim at Ukrainian cheese and Belarusian milk at times when Moscow's relations with those countries were strained.

There was no obvious political context to these latest comments.

-- Tom Balmforth
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack from: US
July 23, 2012 15:48
Onischenko is completely right. Hamburgers and McDonalds' junk is one of the reasons for obesity epidemic in US. Some chemicals added by US food corporations are designed to kill brain cells and turn people into fat brainless rednecks willing to believe whatever propaganda US government puts up. That explains why 70% of Americans believe that killing Christians in Kosovo and Bosnia and in Syria is a good thing, and support US government sponsorship of Muslim Sunni terrorists. Those 70% are always there to believe anything US government says
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 23, 2012 17:28
Jack, where did you find this 70% figure?
In Response

by: Mamuka
July 23, 2012 23:19
He got it from the Wahhabi Institute of Peaceful Nutritional Science, a NATO-funded minion.
In Response

by: JC from: New Zealand
July 24, 2012 04:29
The opinions of conspiracy theorists carry little - or no - weight.

Americans are obese because they eat too much - it doesn't matter whether it is junk food or not. They just eat too much of it. Having said that, McDonald's is one of the worst types of food for fat people to eat.

by: Jack from: US
July 23, 2012 21:41
that woman in Moscow was lucky to get a refund from McDonald's. Will those millions of 300-pound rednecks in US who lost their brain cells to dangerous chemicals consumed with burgers and french fries ever get a refund?

by: Brazilian Man from: São Paulo, Brazil
July 25, 2012 09:19
“I would like to remind our fellow citizens that hamburgers, even without worms, are not a good choice of a meal for residents of Moscow and of Russia. This is not our cuisine.”

It seems like Moscow is going gradually, at least in some cultural-political aspects, to the “good times” of the Brezhnev era… when McDonald’s, sushi and Coca-Cola were Verboten.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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