Russia continues to slam its ban hammer on Western foods: The country's food safety watch dog agency, has shut down four McDonald's locations in Moscow. According to USA Today, the agency temporarily shuttered the restaurants due to "numerous sanitary violations." The affected locations include the famous McDonald's on Pushkin Square that is "among the chain's busiest." Reuters adds that the agency has also begun "unscheduled" inspections at McDonald's restaurants across several regions in Russia, once again citing "breaches of sanitary rules."
While the agency denies that these recent moves are "politically motivated" they have only been implemented since "Moscow and the West imposed tit-for-tat sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine." The BBC notes that "Russian MPs have also called for checks on other US fast-food brands, including Burger King and KFC."
Quartz points out that suspending operations at McDonald's is not just putting a pinch on the American fast food chain, but may be hurting Russians more. The fast food chain sources most of its products like dairy, meat, and vegetables from around 160 local Russian suppliers. Reuters writes that McDonalds has 438 restaurants in the country and that it considers Russia to be one of its "major markets" outside of the United Sates and Canada. A McDonald's Russia spokeswoman confirmed to USA Today that the company is "closely studying the subject of the documents to define what should be done to re-open the restaurants as soon as possible."
This isn't the first punch Russia has thrown at McDonald's. Earlier this month, the agency launched an investigation into the chain's cheese suppliers, again citing "safety reasons." A local watchdog agency also filed a lawsuit in Moscow against the chain to request that it remove items like cheeseburgers and Filet-o-Fish sandwiches from the menu. Many Russian politicians and pro-Russian social media users have also called for McDonald's to shutter and exit Russia. On top of all of that, Russia has banned all food imports — including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and milk — from the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Australia, and Norway in retaliation to sanctions over Ukraine.
· Four McDonald's Shut by Russian Watchdog [USA Today]
· Russia Watchdog Widens Probe [BBC]
· Russia Extends Scrutiny of McDonald's [Reuters]
· Moscow's Crackdown on McDonald's [Quartz]
· All McDonald's Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Russia Coverage on Eater [-E-]