A Hong Kong-based animal welfare charity on Thursday criticised China's space programme for serving dog meat to its astronauts.
Yang Liwei, China's first man in space, revealed in his recent autobiography that dog meat was included in the special diet for astronauts preparing for missions.
The Hong Kong-based charity Animals Asia Thursday hit out at the revelation by Yang, who made history when he orbited earth in the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft in October 2003.
Irene Feng, the charity's spokeswoman said, "There are so many health risks associated with the farming, slaughter and consumption of dogs. I hope our national space team will consider these issues.
"There are a number of diseases associated with the dog meat trade, such as cholera, rabies and trichinellosis, and all of these can be transmitted to humans.
"We also believe that in some areas, teams of dog killers use cyanide to poison the dogs before selling them to meat markets."
Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson said the space programme should also consider the "terrible cruelty" of dog markets where the animals face "days of terror before suffering a horrifying and brutal death".
The consumption of dog meat has been widespread for centuries in China, particularly in rural areas, despite recent official steps by the government to discourage the practice.