Russia releases 34 detained Chinese travellers after mistaking tofu for crystal meth

A difficult weekend for the bland food item

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The Independent Online

34 Chinese travellers were released at the weekend by Russian authorities after they were mistakenly accused of smuggling crystal methamphetamine into the country.

Instead, after Russian custom officials at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport performed tests on the suspicious items, they discovered the packages were not 230kg of the notorious drug but in fact a food additive used to make tofu.

One of the innocent Chinese travellers, who arrived in Moscow from Beijing, told reporters, "It's not crystal meth as some media have said, but a kind of food additive which is used in making tofu."

Initial Russian media reports on Friday said that the 34 Chinese travellers, whose company had sent them to Russia, had been detained for trying to smuggle a huge quantity of drugs into the Russian Federation, prompting the Chinese embassy in Moscow to get involved.

China Daily reported on Saturday that the Russian authorities had begun to release the 34 individuals, who were all employees of a company in China's Hei Longjiang province.

Crystal meth is a synthetic drug that can be smoked, swallowed, snorted or injected.

Tofu - or bean curd - is a food made by coagulating soy milk.