Russia takes aim at McDonald's burgers as U.S. ties worsen

Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:19am EDT
 
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By Maria Kiselyova and Olga Sichkar

MOSCOW (Reuters) - McDonald's burgers and shakes may become the latest victims of worsening ties between Moscow and Washington after a Russian consumer watchdog agency accused the U.S. chain of sanitary violations.

McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote), which opened its first Russian restaurant in Moscow in 1990, became an iconic symbol of flourishing American capitalism during the fall of the Soviet Union.

But its Golden Arches may be in the Kremlin's crosshairs as ties between Moscow and Washington have fallen to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War with consecutive rounds of U.S. sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis.

"We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald's chain in doubt," Anna Popova, the watchdog's head and Russia's chief sanitary inspector, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

The watchdog agency Rospotrebnadzor has previously been accused of acting in the political interests of the Kremlin, banning Georgian wine as Tbilisi strengthened ties with Washington and spirits from Moldova after the former Soviet republic boosted its drive to partner with the European Union.

A Moscow court told Reuters a regional branch of Rospotrebnadzor had asked it to declare production and sales of some McDonald's products illegal after the watchdog agency carried out inspections of McDonald's restaurants last June.

The regulator says the company is deceiving consumers about the energy value of its Cheeseburger Royales, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburgers and Chicken Burgers and about nutritional value of its milkshakes and ice creams.

Its also said in a statement that Caesar wrap sandwiches and a vegetable salad were contaminated with coliform bacteria, which indicates the likelihood of food poisoning.   Continued...

 
Customers buy food at a McDonald's restaurant in Moscow February 1, 2010.   REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov