The Russian sanitary service Rospotrebnadzor has filed a lawsuit, demanding the removal of some products from sale. In particular, the department wants to ban cheeseburgers, royal cheeseburgers, filet-o-fish and chicken burgers.
"Rospotrebnadzor, in the Novgorod region, wants the court to ban the production of several burgers made at McDonald’s in Russia," said Ekaterina Korotova, press secretary of the Tver Court of Moscow. "Preliminary hearings on the case are scheduled for August."
"We have revealed violations, which cast doubt on the quality and safety of food products throughout the whole McDonald’s network," said Anna Popova, head of Rospotrebnadzor and chief state sanitary doctor of Russia. "Safety and energy value indicators on these products are not adequate. They are far from the necessary standards," she added.
The lawsuit was filed after a planned inspection in two fast food restaurants of McDonald’s in Veliky Novgorod, which revealed significant violations of the law, according to the lawsuit.
A complete ban on the sale of meat products from McDonald’s has not yet been discussed, but experts believe the case has a political colour and, should relations with the USA deteriorate further, the fast food chain may be completely banned from the country. Attacks on McDonald’s by Russian politicians began in spring of this year, when the fast food chain closed its offices in the Crimea, following Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.
According to Anton Soroko, an analyst from investment holding company Finam, if a ban on sales of the products mentioned in the lawsuit were to be implemented, McDonald’s Russian division could lose up to 40% of its revenue or about RUB20 billion (US$554m) per year.
"McDonald’s has not received complaints from Rospotrebnadzor and does not have any information about this lawsuit and its essence," commented Svetlana Polyakova, director of public relations at McDonald’s in Russia.
Previously, Alexei Alexeenko, assistant to the head of veterinary authority Rosselkhoznadzor, had also called for a ban on the fast food chain’s production. However, in a follow-up statement Rosselkhoznadzor said this was Alexeenko’s personal opinion and not the official position of the veterinary watchdog.
At the same time, it appears Russia has also initiated attacks on other foreign fast food chains. Roman Khudyakov, a member of the Russian Parliament, sent a request to the chief sanitary doctor Anna Popova to check the quality of food in the restaurant chains of KFC and Burger King.
"The companies mentioned have a significant representation in Russia, and citizens should be informed on the quality of the food they are buying," he commented. Rospotrebnadzor has not commented on this issue.