McDonald's in Russia at odds with government

McDonald's, with 430 restaurants in Russia, has recently been the target of government investigations.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  July 29, 2014 at 4:16 PM
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MOSCOW, July 29 (UPI) -- The Russian government has accused McDonald's of alleged impurities in food sold at its Russian restaurants, part of an undeclared war against U.S. interests.

The fast-food company was sued by food regulators in Novogorod last week who claimed the nutritional content of its cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches and milk shakes was misrepresented. On Monday, Rosselkhoznadzor, the federal agency regulating food quality, said an investigation had begun into alleged antibiotics in McDonald's cheese. McDonald's has 430 restaurants in Russia. The first, in Moscow, was built in 1990.

Rosselkhoznadzor spokesman Alexei Alexeyenko told the television channel Russia Today the investigation was initiated after "a great number of complaints," but McDonald's, on its Russian website, said no complaints were received and that the posted nutritional information followed Russian government practices.

McDonald's was the target of a national boycott after it closed three restaurants in Crimea, citing supply concerns -- a comment taken by some to be a reference to the Russian takeover and annexation of the region.

The conflict between the fast-food firm and the government follows a pattern of soft conflict between Russia and Western interests; American adoption of Russian children was banned by law in 2013, and U.S. aid organizations and pro-democracy non-governmental groups have had restrictions placed on their work.

Wendy's Co., another U. S. fast-food chain, announced Monday it would leaver the Russian market after three years, spokesman Bob Bertini noting Wenrus, its Russian franchise holder, "has not expressed interest in growing Wendy's business in Russia, nor shown they have the resources to successfully operate the existing restaurants on a long-term basis."

Wendy's had plans to open 180 franchises across Russia, but only eight have opened. Bertini said that decision "was totally unrelated to the current political situation."

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